Families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus have said it feels “like an error to act like we’ve got Covid beaten” as the Government prepares to lift restrictions.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group accused the Government of having “skewed priorities” as it set out its plans for the next stage of the road map.
The unlocking is expected on July 19, with a final decision due next Monday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that deaths will rise but said the Government must “balance the risk” of disease from the virus and the harm from continuing with legal restrictions.
Bereaved families said it feels like mistakes made last summer are being repeated and the country needs a public inquiry to start urgently so lessons are learned in time to save lives.
Co-founder of the group Jo Goodman, who lost her father Stuart to the virus, said: “It feels like they’re repeating many of the same mistakes they made last summer.
“It’s a gut-churning de ja vu for those of us whose loved ones paid the ultimate price for those mistakes.
“The race to vaccinate people feels pretty finely in the balance at the moment and, with cases surging, honestly it feels like an error to act like we’ve got Covid beaten.”
As part of the easing of restrictions, the legal requirement to wear face coverings will be lifted, although guidance will suggest people might choose to do so in “enclosed and crowded places”.
Ms Goodman said the scrapping of mandatory mask wearing was “particularly horrifying” to the families of transport workers who have died.
She added: “The thought that transport workers may be put at risk as cases rise is an insult to those we have lost, and shows worrying disregard for the key workers we have relied on so heavily during the course of the pandemic.
“Wearing face masks is an evidence-based, low-cost intervention proven to save lives, so it’s hard to see what the logic is behind today’s announcement.”