Masks will be ‘expected’ in enclosed indoor areas, says vaccines minister

Nadhim Zahawi said masks should not be scrapped as England moves away from using laws to govern the response to Covid and case rates heighten

The government has come under criticism for removing the mandatory wearing of face masks in the next stage of restrictions, which the Prime Minister is expected to confirm on July 12.

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Labour say mandatory mask-wearing should continue in public places as Wales keeps face coverings compulsory on public transport.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi urged that masks are still needed indoors (AFP via Getty)
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi urged that masks are still needed indoors (AFP via Getty)

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At a glance: 5 key points

- More than 120 scientists and doctors signed a letter in The Lancet accusing the UK government of conducting an “unethical experiment” - and urge for mask wearing to continue

- Nadhim Zahawi told Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News that guidance set out on July 12 would say people were expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces, although the legal requirement to do so would be dropped

- Health Secretary Sajid Javid told The Sunday Telegraph anyone who would not wear a mask in an enclosed space was “just being irresponsible”

- Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham is wants mask wearing on city trams past July 19 – although attempts might be hard to enforce

- People who are fully vaccinated will be able to forgo self-isolation even if the app detects the y have been in contact with someone who has tested positive after August 16

What’s been said?

Mr Zahawi: “I think it’s important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we’ll set out tomorrow will demonstrate that, including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Given Sajid Javid now considers it irresponsible to not wear masks then it would be equally irresponsible for his government to carry on with the plan to lift mask requirements while infections are heading to 100,000 a day.”

Background

The Prime Minister has said that all legal Covid restrictions, including requirements to wear face masks, are set to be ditched on 19 July in England.

Currently in the UK, you must by law wear a face covering in a number of indoor settings, including in public transport, in shops and supermarkets, and in hospitality settings, except when seated.