IT'S probably true to say I’m feeling a little more confident about getting out and about thanks to a combination of being vaccinated (my second dose is this week) and the generally lower rate of coronavirus infections circulating at the moment.

I still don’t fancy large crowds and enclosed spaces, but I was on furlough last week and that gave me the perfect opportunity to shop during the day when it was likely to be a little quieter.

So with my mask and hand sanitiser, it was off to the garden centres and B&Q for me.

We’ve had a bit of a garden makeover so it wasn’t a case of just nipping in, picking up a few things and darting out, it was more of a military reconnaissance mission involving garden centres in Cronton, Widnes, Bold and Newton-le-Willows, some of them multiple times.

But I thought I’d give Bents in Glazebury a miss this time round, I’m not ready for the hordes just yet.

What you need to realise is that for the best part of 15 months, we’ve hardly been out of the house and actually being in a building with other people was a big deal for us.

By and large, we needn’t have worried. Because our trips were during the day, putting this as politely as I can, most of the clientele were mainly older people and I can only assume had been vaccinated.

And it was good to see that everyone observed social distancing and absolutely everyone wore a mask.

But B&Q was a different story. Perhaps it has a different demographic but on three separate visits in the past week, at least one person was shopping without wearing a mask.

And without wishing to start an inter-generational war, every one of the maskless was young.

Now it’s my understanding that wearing a mask in shops is still a legal requirement and won’t be lifted before Step 4 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown in June. In the meantime the authorities will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission.

As the government says: “This will inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on One metre plus [social distancing], the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted.

It may be a minority of people out there who think it’s OK to ignore the regulations but, in my opinion, those maskless shoppers are just displaying an unacceptable level of dangerous arrogance.

I don’t blame B&Q for this. It puts shop workers in an invidious position and I certainly wouldn’t expect staff to be challenging shoppers.

But the success of the lockdowns in controlling Covid-19 has very much depended on the goodwill and good sense of the public and I really hope the selfish actions of a minority don’t spoil it for the rest of us.

Coronavirus hasn’t gone away – the harrowing images from India are testament to that – and anyone who now thinks it’s completely safe needs to think again.

On a different subject, I see social media has claimed yet another political scalp in Warrington.

Step forward Stephen Chadwick, a Tory candidate for the Lymm North and Thelwall ward.

The BBC has done a bit of digging into Mr Chadwick’s online past and has uncovered a tweet from Chadwick's deleted Twitter account from February 2020, in which he asked ITV's Good Morning Britain programme: “at what point will you turn around and admit that Tommy Robinson has been talking complete and utter sense regarding these Islamic problems?”

Apparently, the Conservatives have now suspended Chadwick but it came too late to remove him from the ballot paper.

It’s a pity they didn’t take the opportunity to remove him as a candidate a couple of weeks ago.