SHOPPERS in Bolton on ‘Freedom Day’ say they are inclined to keep wearing masks to protect others.

Face masks are no longer mandatory but the Government says it “expects and recommends” masks to be worn in crowded and enclosed spaces.

The Bolton News spoke to several town centre shoppers after the rule change.

Farida Umer, 49, from Astley Bridge, said: “I was contemplating this morning whether I should wear my face mask today. I did get my face mask out to put it on, but the reason I don’t have it on is because it is too hot.

“I don’t think by putting a date on it that everything is going to go back to normal, far from it, but it is definitely personal choice on wearing the face coverings and I will continue to wear mine in crowded places.”

But Aimee Boardman, 24, from Great Lever, still feels “pandemic scared” and believes that “Covid hasn’t gone away just because the restrictions have eased.”

Miss Boardman said she isn’t just scared for herself but her loved ones too.

She said: “I’ve got two children, what if they catch it, one of the worst things to go through is not just being scared of getting it but then getting it, passing it on and having one of your family members taken away from you and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“I think when that’s at stake, it shouldn’t be an issue to wear a mask.”

Alfred Haslam, 68, from Great Lever, is also continuing to wear his face covering post ‘Freedom Day’ but believes that the people who never wore them, never will.

He said: “I have no problem with wearing a face mask. I mean the people who never wore it before, will never wear it but I think it is entirely up to yourself.”

Mr Haslam said he likes to wear his face masks because it is protecting other people, but he believes only 50% of people will continue to wear them.

He said: “I know this is not protecting me, I’m protecting other people. This mask stops me spreading my germs when I cough and sneeze. But I do think that only 50 per cent of people will continue to wear them.”

Many people across the town centre believe that people will and should continue to wear their face coverings going forward.

Sophie Batterson, from Great Lever, thinks people should wear their face coverings because Covid is still around.

The 26-year-old said: “I will carry on wearing mine until it is definitely safe not to.

“I think people should continue to wear their masks because there are older people that could get ill, I think restrictions have been eased too soon.”

Mazhar Iqbal, 41, from Great Lever, is amongst those who will continue to wear their face mask and believes they should be worn in the coming months.

He said: “I think they should be worn for the next three months to get everything clear and then by then everything should be okay because there are many people still getting the virus and passing it on.”

While most restrictions have been eased there are some other key protections that are being kept in place from today:

• Testing when you have symptoms and targeted asymptomatic testing in education and high-risk workplaces.

• Isolating when contacted by NHS Test and Trace and when positive.

• Border quarantine will remain in place for all arriving from the red list countries and for those not fully vaccinated arriving from Amber list countries.

• While the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home, the Government are recommending a gradual return over summer.

• Minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.

• And encouraging and supporting businesses and large events to use the NHS Covid Pass in high risk settings.