Don't stand so close to me as lockdown continues to ease - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

It is finally in sight. Nearly five months after the first person was vaccinated in the UK, I’m poised and ready for my call-up.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 4:45 am
Respect boundaries as rules continue to ease. Pic: Getty

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that over-35s will be able to book their Covid-19 jabs in the coming days.

I’ve been patiently waiting my turn in what feels like a very long customer call centre waiting line – thankfully without the dulcet tones of Greensleeves ringing down the line – and soon my ship is about to come in.

I’ve already cried tears of joy after my parents were both fully vaccinated and watched with envy as colleagues and friends posted their vaccination cards on social media over the last few weeks.

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I must admit that I am particularly squeamish when it comes to needles, injections and medical procedures in general. It’s become like a reflex for me to hide away behind the cushion at the first sight of any make-believe surgery on television shows.

Despite that, I’m ready to roll up my sleeve and play my part in the country’s vaccination drive.

The all-important work of delivering jabs continues today on what should have been a day for celebration as we reach the next stage of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

However, it is likely to be a much more muted affair now that it is set against the backdrop of concerns over the Indian coronavirus variant.

Today the Prime Minister has called for a “heavy dose of caution” as indoor socialising and physical contact can resume once more.

Boris Johnson warns that “everyone must play their part” in what some top scientists are warning is a “perilous moment” for the nation as restrictions continue to be eased.

Pubs and restaurants are going to be able to welcome customers back indoors, household visits can resume and the foreign holiday ban will end.

Hugs and other physical contact between households will be permitted for the first time since restrictions began more than a year ago.

However, people are being urged to be cautious and responsible when enjoying the new freedoms that come into play.

It was hard not to raise an eyebrow when Professor Sir Mark Walport warned at the weekend: “If you’re going to hug, hug cautiously.”

This leads to one question –just what is a cautious hug?

I’ve never been one for close physical contact. I quite like my own space and woe betide anybody who wants to step into my personal perimeter.

So pardon me if I’m not going to be racing to embrace from today.

Quite the opposite, I’m happy to maintain being as anti-social for as long as I possibly can and reserve my hugs for a very select few.

I suspect I won’t be alone as many more people will be cautiously easing their way out of this state of hibernation we’ve endured.

Everyone will have their own pace that they are comfortable with as we continue to exit the lockdown and it is important that people respect these boundaries.

And even when the rules are lifted completely, I think I’ll continue exercising the right to my own space – I’ll keep grabbing at any excuse!

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