'Royston is a safe town, let's keep it that way' - Town mayor on restrictions easing

Cllr Mark Hughes is the new Mayor of Royston for 2021-2022

Mayor of Royston, Cllr Mark Hughes, has spoken to the Crow on 'Freedom Day' about the easing of all legal restrictions in England - Credit: Royston Town Council

Royston's town mayor has spoken to the Crow about about the easing of restrictions on 'Freedom Day' - including whether he will be wearing a mask when there's no legal obligation to do so. 

People living in and visiting England are not under legal restrictions in nearly all areas of daily life. Limits on social contact are gone, venues can now open with no capacity limits, and face masks are no longer mandatory.

The government has instead asked people to make informed decisions about how to manage the risk to themselves and others.

"Please, please, please be cautious," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement via his Twitter account. "Go forward into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people."

Royston's town mayor, Councillor Mark Hughes, has echoed the government's stance - that caution and taking personal responsibility is the key to returning to normal life. 

Councillor Hughes said: "My own decisions will be driven by personal responsibility. I will wear a mask if I am in a crowded, unventilated space. For example, in the very unlikely occasion that I would go to a nightclub I will wear a mask. I don't think me going to a nightclub, would happen but you get the example of that's a place where I would do so. 

"If I am travelling on a train late at night and I am the only one in the carriage I won't wear a mask, but If I am on a train in a day in a crowded carriage or on the London Underground I will wear a mask. 

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"If I am requested to wear a mask by a businesses or a body I will. If people around me are uncomfortable about me not wearing a mask, or if they ask that I wear one, I would - It's not about me, it's about how other people perceive it.

"As mayor I get to go and visit a number of organisations, and say I go to a day centre where there are vulnerable people, I will wear a mask and if they then said I didn't need to wear one I will consider removing it. I will certainly begin with the default of wearing one in that situation.

"We are going to see a big surge in people getting the virus people are going to end up getting antibodies by catching the virus or getting the vaccine - so I urge you, if you haven't had your vaccine yet, to get it. 

Royston Mayor Mark Hughes getting his second COVID jab. Picture: Mark Hughes

Royston Mayor Mark Hughes getting his second COVID jab - Credit: Mark Hughes

"I support the government because you have to open up at some point and that's how pandemics end - with herd immunity. If we don't do it now, when the kids are breaking up from school and the summer means the weather makes it less transmissible, when can we?

"People can still get ill, so if you can prevent that by getting the vaccine or taking a precautionary measure please do so. 

Mayor Hughes also told the Crow how well he thought Royston reacted to the pandemic so far. 

"I am proud of how Royston responded to the pandemic, definitely.

"I think there's been compliance and tolerance in our community regarding the restrictions. The majority of people have adhered. We all have stories about someone in a shop who didn't wear a mask, but they are the minority of people.

Cllr Sam Collins and Mayor Cllr Mark Hughes at the newly installed bus shelter in Royston

Cllr Sam Collins and Mayor Cllr Mark Hughes at the newly installed bus shelter in Royston - Credit: NHDC

"As we move into the personal responsibility stage, I have no doubt the vast majority of people of Royston will respond accordingly. And with that, hopefully, we will remain a low-risk area and we can enjoy the benefits of moving forward and being a free society again. 

"I walked up the high street today, there are some shops that have no restrictions. I went into a coffee shop and bought a coffee, I didn't wear a mask and I wasn't asked to. Apart from one other person who was just leaving, here was no one else in the shop.

"I also noticed there were other stores that did have restrictions. It's not consistent, so you have to take the lead from where it is you are going.

"The key is personal responsibility and being aware of the needs of other people. If you're in the supermarket and someone hasn't moved away, don't just lean across them - let them have their space and wait for them to move.

"I know there is no legal social distancing restriction in place, but just behave decently -  I think most people will do that and that's what has helped us get through it. We haven't had the problems some areas have had. 

"Royston is a safe town - let's keep it that way."