Most people want masks to remain mandatory in shops and on public transport even when restrictions are lifted.
A poll by YouGov asked people whether they wanted masks to remain mandatory even when restrictions are lifted in England, Wales, and Scotland. Of the 2,749 adults asked on Monday 71% said they wanted face coverings to remain compulsory on public transport and 66% wanted them to be mandatory to wear in shops and enclosed public places.
The poll was taken on the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced how Stage Four of lockdown easing would look in England with requirements for social distancing and masks set to be ditched on so-called ‘Freedom Day’, which is expected to take place on July 19. However any such one-day target for the easing of all limits has been ruled out in Wales as infections continue to rise and two parts of the country saw case rates surge past the 200 mark. You can recap all the latest for Wales following Monday’s Welsh Government briefing by going here.
While it remains to be seen if Wales will at some point follow Mr Johnson’s plan to make any use of face masks a personal choice rather than a legal requirement the YouGov survey showed support for keeping masks mandatory in all major political groups although strength varies across the spectrum. Some 82% of 2019 Lib Dem voters support keeping masks mandatory on public transport while 79% of Labour voters are in favour and 67% of Conservative voters back such a move.
At a Downing Street press conference on Monday the Prime Minister said he will make public on July 12 whether all restrictions in England will be lifted on July 19. The Prime Minister said he wanted to move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own “informed decisions” and that includes on the issue of wearing masks.
Under the Prime Minister’s plan for Step Four of the road map in England:
- there will be no limits on social contact meaning the end of the orders such as the “rule of six” and restrictions on guests at weddings and mourners at funerals;
- legal requirement to wear face coverings will be lifted, although guidance will suggest people might choose to do so in “enclosed and crowded places”;
- all remaining businesses will be able to re-open, including nightclubs, while capacity caps will be lifted and bars and restaurants will no longer be restricted to table service;
- the UK Government will no longer instruct people to work from home;
- the “one metre-plus” rule on social distancing will be lifted except in specific circumstances such as at the border, where guidance will remain.
Mr Johnson said people will still have to self-isolate if told to but the UK Government want to “move to a different regime” for people who are fully vaccinated and come in contact with someone who has tested positive and also set a different rule for children.
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty told the same press conference he expects cases to go up and said the number of deaths will increase. He also said that the link between deaths and hospitalisations due to vaccinations had been weakened but not broken.
Wales’ rules are set by Welsh Government and the next review will be on July 15.
Wales’ health minister Eluned Morgan has said she is confident that rising coronavirus infection levels in Wales won’t cause the same level of illness or harm as the first two waves of Covid.
The health minister said the easing of restrictions in England will not influence the Welsh Government’s decision on what should happen on this side of the border.
Ms Morgan said “if it’s not right for Wales we won’t be doing that” and added that the EuroJournal in England has “time and time again set and been missed.” She said while the Welsh Government would like to follow a unified approach from all four UK nations this had not been possible.