‘This disease does not disappear on 19 July’

6 Jul 2021

As government announces end to pandemic restrictions in England, RCN warns that public and frontline workers still need to be protected from the virus.

Health care staff in full PPE surround a patient's bed

The government has announced that 19 July will bring an end to many pandemic measures, including mask-wearing and social distancing, despite a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. 

The RCN has warned that health workers and members of the public will continue to be at risk after 19 July, calling for continuation of public mask-wearing and better protection for frontline workers.

Jude Diggins, RCN Interim Director of Nursing, Policy and Public Affairs, said: “When COVID-19 cases are soaring across the UK, we must not lose the benefits of a successful vaccine programme to rash decisions. We must continue to protect our most vulnerable and frontline workers. 

“This disease does not disappear on 19 July. No available vaccine is 100% effective.

“COVID-19 will remain a significant risk to the public's health and health care workers. Public mask-wearing is straightforward and well-established – the government will regret the day it sent the wrong signal for political expediency.”

Since late 2020, the RCN has been calling for a higher level of PPE for nursing staff. Last week, new research confirmed that wearing FFP3 face masks can considerably reduce the risk of health care workers becoming infected with COVID-19.

“After these steps to reduce restrictions, nursing staff need even greater protection than they have been afforded to date – they still need higher-grade masks,” added Jude. 

“Political announcements must not cause yet more confusion in the health service and we will need clarity around public health measures."

Page last updated - 17/08/2021