The UK’s environment secretary has said that he will not be wearing masks once the restrictions are scrapped, adding: “I want to get back to normal.”
There will reportedly be no “legal compulsion” to wear face masks once the coronavirus restrictions in England are lifted, the environment secretary has said, as he said that he will be ditching his face mask when the rules are scrapped.
George Eustice has said that the UK government wants “all of the legal requirements to do things to be taken away completely” at the fourth step of its roadmap for lifting COVID-19 lockdown measures, which is currently scheduled for the 19th of July.
“Whether there will still be some people who might choose to wear masks or whether it may be advisory in some settings, that’s a separate matter,” he said.
“But the objective of that final stage is to remove the legal requirement to do these things.”
This comes after next year’s A-level and GCSE exams in England are likely to face “adjustments” to be fairer to pupils disrupted by the pandemic, the education secretary has told MPs. Gavin Williamson said exams in 2022 would need to be altered so that pupils would not be at a disadvantage.
Asked if he would continue to be wearing a face-covering beyond that point, the Environment Minister replied: “I wouldn’t, no. I have to be honest; once I’m told it’s safe not to, I want to get back to normal.
“I think a lot of people will want to shed those masks.
“But while it’s contributing to controlling the pandemic, yes, I will wear my mask like everybody else and do my bit.”
The wearing of face masks within a range of settings, including in shops, as well as on public transport, has been required since summer of last year.
George Eustice’s comments come after an expert has said that social distancing and mask-wearing would still be required in the future in areas that are vulnerable of high infection.
Dr David Nabarro, who is a special envoy on COVID-19 for the World Health Organisation, has said that there was still a need to “maintain defences against the virus to stop it welling up more and more, and that’s going to be the life to come, at least until there’s enough vaccine, and enough certainty, to be sure that vaccination will protect us”.
This comes after Prime minister Boris Johnson has said it is “looking good” for the 19th of July to be the “terminus point” for England’s coronavirus restrictions, but did not rule out the prospect of further coronavirus lockdowns in the winter.
He added that because of new variants, “as well as using the vaccine as part of our defence, we’re going to have to continue by keeping a bit of a distance from each other and then I’m going to suggest that the physical distancing part of one metre plus and mask-wearing will be necessary, particularly in places where there’s a lot of virus”.
Speaking to Members of Parliament last week, Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins said that there will be more emphasis on the personal risk and responsibility once coronavirus restrictions are eventually lifted.