Forgotten victims: People who are STILL isolating two years on

People out and about in Gentleman's Walk as face masks are to become compulsory on public transport

People out and about in Norwich wearing masks at the height of the pandemic - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

No friends over for dinner. No plane journeys. No entering a shop without a mask.

These are the devastating rules some of the city's most vulnerable families are still living under in a bid to protect themselves from Covid.

Although the world has returned to "normal" for many people, leaving the house can still feel as dangerous as ever for immunocompromised citizens.

Under the government's living with Covid plan, people who test positive for the disease are no longer required to isolate.

Masks are not mandatory in shops and public transport and free universal testing has stopped.

David Morgan has been sent round in circles and is at a loss of what to do.

David Morgan (right) who has isolated since 2020 because of health conditions - Credit: David Morgan

But that worries David Morgan, 75, from Cannell Green, Norwich, who has been isolating since 2020 because of his heart, lung and kidney disease.

Mr Morgan, who gets all his shopping delivered online and only welcomes the odd visitor to his home, said: "The government is saying we have got to get on with life and that is worrying.

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"I am housebound and it is not enjoyable. There have been a couple of times when I was meant to go into hospital for procedures but I didn't because I don't want to catch Covid.

"There are still people dying of it.

"I don't know what to do. I would say good luck to anyone who can carry on as normal if they can manage it but I cannot cope with it mentally."

He said he had not received any official health guidance and thought mask wearing should carry on, though he found some comfort from the vaccine.

Susan Gothard playing the bagpipes every Thursday in memory of her father-in-law, Brian Gothard, at

Susan Gothard playing the bagpipes every Thursday in memory of her father-in-law, Brian Gothard, at her home in Hingham, pictured with her wife, Debbie. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

It comes after the government announced a fourth vaccine for people with a severely weakened immune system. 

These patients will also still be able to access lateral flow tests from the government but they will no longer be automatically sent PCR tests.

Former Norwich headteacher and musician Susan Gothard, 65, from Hingham, near Wymondham, has diabetes and has been isolating with her wife, Debbie Gothard, 55, who has myalgic encephalomyelitis, since the first lockdown.

She said: "We are not out of the woods.

"It is down to people's personal choice and we have made the choice that we would rather be safe than sorry. If I need to go shopping I wear a mask. I never go anywhere without it.

"We always wear it outside and we don't see that changing. It isn't worth the risk."

A recent YouGov poll of around 2,000 people found that only 55pc of vulnerable people in England were aware they should avoid contact with vulnerable people if they have Covid.

Mrs Gothard and her wife have also remained cautious because her 86-year-old father-in-law Brian Gothard, from Wymondham, died from Covid in hospital in 2020.

She said they wear a mask when people come to their door.

The pair went on holiday for the first time since the lockdown two weeks ago in their motorhome to Scotland.

"I don't think we will ever go on a plane on holiday again," added Mrs Gothard.

She understood people's desire to get out and said: "We cannot test anymore and have to rely on people's sense. It is ridiculous you don't have to isolate if you test positive.

"In certain jobs people don't get paid if they don't turn up and I understand the angst because people are struggling to make ends meet."

Wendy Howe left and Sue Lawrence, at Waterloo Park after lock down restrictions altered. Pictures:

Wendy Howe left and Sue Lawrence, at Waterloo Park after lock down restrictions altered. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Sue Lawrence, 75, from Newark Close, Thorpe St Andrew, isolated during the pandemic because she has a Huntington's disease gene but has returned to social activities.

She said: "There should be support for people with health conditions. Walking around Norwich you wouldn't have thought there was a pandemic."

The Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable from Covid and have ensured multiple lifesaving treatments, free testing and additional booster vaccinations are available for those most at risk.

“Vaccines continue to be one of the best way we can protect ourselves from the virus and we continue to urge all those eligible to get their Covid vaccination as soon as they can.”

Experts advise 'common sense'

People with serious health conditions should continue to mask up because of the threat of Covid, scientists are warning.

But Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in infectious diseases at the university of East Anglia, and Dr Andrew Page, head of informatics at Norwich's Quadram Institute, who sequenced Covid tests, said it was right the government has dropped restrictions in England.

Dr Andrew Page, head of informatics at Quadram Institute in Norwich

Dr Andrew Page, head of informatics at Quadram Institute in Norwich - Credit: Dr Andrew Page

Dr Page said: "If you are immunocompromised you are going to be more at risk of disease.

"What has changed is people are vaccinated so people's immune systems are primed.

"It was right to remove restrictions. People have to exercise common sense."

He added individuals with health problems should continue to wash hands and wear a mask.

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA - Credit: UEA

Prof Hunter said: "Masks do not prevent infection but people will be exposed to less virus. Covid is a virus that will be here forever. Vaccines stop people dying from it."

He added fewer people were dying from Covid in England compared to flu but people who had serious health conditions, who caught Covid, would have access to rapid testing and a variety of treatments.