• Monday, November 28, 2022

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Government changes stance on masks in public places

People wear face masks while shopping at Covent Garden in London, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

By: Pooja Shrivastava

“Mixed messaging” has been coming from the UK government over the use of masks and social distancing as the country is headed towards its Freedom Day on July 19, as per media reports. While UK prime minister Boris Johnson on Sunday (11) urged Britons to remain “cautious”, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted that people will still be “expected” to wear mask or face coverings in confined spaces under new guidance- as compared to “matter of choice” which was reported earlier.

 

Saying that “caution” is absolutely vital, Johnson said in a statement that “the global pandemic is not over yet”. Later today, he is expected to address the nation to confirm plans to remove nearly all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England from July 19. 

Insisting that the unlocking schedule will go ahead as planned on July 19, Zahawi said masks will still be “expected” in crowded places such as public transport when most remaining Covid restrictions are lifted. 

“The guidelines that we will set out tomorrow will demonstrate that, including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces, and of course to remain vigilant,” the Stratford MP said on Sunday (11).

Earlier, media reports stated that wearing face masks will soon become a “matter-of-choice” everywhere – including on public transport.

The soon-to-be-announced guidelines for the unlocking will also remove working from home as a compulsion, as per reports, though Public Health England said that people should continue to work from home for the next four to six weeks if they are able to do so amid surging cases of coronavirus.

Speaking to Times Radio, the PHE adviser Dr Susan Hopkins, who has made regular appearances at the No 10 Covid briefings, said she recognised the government was “very keen” to get people back to the office.

“But I think over the next four to six weeks that needs to be very cautiously implemented by businesses to keep transmission down,” she insisted.

Although more than 85 per cent adult population in the UK is now double-jabbed, many scientists are deeply uneasy with relaxing all remaining rules, including social distancing and the legal requirement to wear masks on public transport and in indoor spaces.

 

Crowds leave Wembley Stadium in northwest London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Niklas HALLE’N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Authorities and experts are also concerned as London on Sunday (11) hosted more than 60,000 fans at Wembley Stadium for the final of the virus-delayed Euro 2020 championship, the biggest crowd at a British football stadium since the start of the pandemic.

“London still remains in a public health crisis,” Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said on Saturday (10), urging people to remain socially distanced.

Authorities in Denmark, Finland and Scotland have already reported infections among fans after they attended Euro matches.

Meanwhile, England recorded 31,772 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday (11)- as compared to 24,647 new cases a week ago- along with 26 new deaths in the latest government figures.

 

 

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