During my latest visit to do the big weekly food shop, I could have counted the number of people wearing a mask – myself included – on two hands at a push.
Gone are the days when every person in the shop, including the staff, was wearing their face mask.
The scenes from last year when social distancing was at its peak felt like a distant memory.
When I last went on a train just a few weeks ago, I felt like I was the only person in the carriage wearing a mask.
Was I just being over-cautious? Sadly, it now appears not.
Under new measures coming into effect from tomorrow, mandatory mask-wearing will return for shops and public transport in a bid to combat the Omricon coronavirus variant.
The Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday told families to plan for Christmas “as normal” and that it was “nowhere near” time to reintroduce social distancing rules and work from home guidance.
Passengers arriving in the UK have been told that from tomorrow morning, they will have to take a PCR test for Covid-19, with the expectation they will have to self-isolate until they test negative.
All contacts with a suspected case of Omicron will have to isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status, amid concerns that existing jabs will be less effective against the strain, which is believed to spread rapidly.
Details of these plans were incomplete when announced by Boris Johnson after two cases of the variant were confirmed in England on Saturday, but Mr Javid has since said the “face mask rules are planned to come into force this Tuesday” to bring England back closer into line with the position in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
But the question I pose is why are we even waiting?
The new guidance was announced on Saturday but we’re waiting until tomorrow to bring mask wearing back into force? It hardly screams of urgency in a bid to battle against the newest strain of the virus.
And this is the rub. Judging by the scores of comments on our story over the weekend, people’s patience when it comes to such restrictions is starting to wear thin.
The key to being successful in any strategy is getting the buy-in from the people whose support you need in the first place.
And the question that is being asked is why are we allowed to wait until tomorrow? Surely the virus doesn’t run on a specific timescale?
Questions have also been raised about how compliance be ensured, especially on trains, if angry passengers refuse to put on a mask.
The measures are due to be reviewed in three weeks as the Government stopped short of instigating its Plan B, which includes mandatory use of vaccine certificates in certain venues and
reinstating work-from-home guidance.
The one thing I know for certain is that I am more than happy to keep wearing my mask in the supermarket and on the train.
But if time really is of the essence when it comes to slowing the spread of this new variant, why are our leaders failing to learn and waiting for another day?
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe