Helen Whately Says She Might Still Wear A Face Mask After July 19

Care minister says it could still be "appropriate" in crowded places and on busy trains.
PA Media

Care minister Helen Whately has said she may continue to wear a face mask in crowded places and on trains after July 19.

Boris Johnson is expected on Monday to tell people in England that it will soon be left to their own judgment to manage coronavirus risks.

Among the rules expected to be lifted is the law requiring face coverings in certain settings.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Whately said she was “looking forward to not having to wear a face mask so much”.

But the minister said she might not ditch them “entirely” after July 19. “I anticipate there may be times where it is appropriate to wear it if I am somewhere that’s crowded, that might make sense,” she said.

Asked if she would continue to wear a mask on a busy train, she added: “I think I might.”

Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, has said he “will” be removing his mask.

“I don’t particularly want to wear a mask, I don’t think a lot of people enjoy doing it,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and George Eustice, the environment secretary, have also both said they will stop wearing masks if and when the guidance permits it.

Several scientists have voiced concerns about a decision to abandon face coverings.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) which advises the government, called for “support and proportionate mitigations to keep us safe” from coronavirus.

“I think we need very clear messaging and I think in certain spaces – crowded, badly ventilated spaces – masks are crucial mitigation,” he said.

Calum Semple, another Sage member and and professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, also told Sky News he may continue to wear a mask.

“I probably will in some settings,” he said.“But it’s got to be remembered that the mask-wearing is primarily to stop transmission rather than acquisition.”

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said people should continue to follow hygienic practices even after restrictions had been lifted and use “common sense.”

Asked if he would still voluntarily wear a mask, he told BBC Breakfast: “I’ll be following the guidance as I have throughout.

“There may be occasions in the next few months in a crowded environment where I might choose to wear a mask and I’m sure others will make similar choices.”


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