Farage Predicts Wearing Masks and Social Distancing Will Become the Norm

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a sign in a cosmetic shop window on March 17, 2020 in London, England. Boris Johnson held the first of his public daily briefing on the Coronavirus outbreak yesterday and told the public to avoid theatres, going …
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Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has predicted that all Britons will have to wear masks as the price to be paid for the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Speaking to supporters during a Facebook live stream on Tuesday, Mr Farage referenced remarks by Britain’s World Health Organization (WHO) envoy Dr David Nabarro, who said that people would have to get used to the idea of long-term social distancing and wearing masks to combat the new Chinese coronavirus.

“They are going to become a reality, part of our way of life,” Mr Farage said, mentioning countries like Austria and Spain which have already mandated the wearing of mouth-nose masks to limit the spread of infection.

“I predict that we all be made to wear face masks and it will come as part of our gradual easing [of lockdown],” the Brexit Party leader said. The government is reportedly going to announce on Thursday an extension to the current nationwide quarantine for another three weeks.

To date, the WHO has refused to recommend that the general public wear masks as a precaution, saying instead they should be reserved for healthcare workers. In a departure from that message, Dr Nabarro had told the BBC on Monday that countries would have to adapt to a new normal post-lockdown, including all people wearing masks.

“This virus isn’t going to go away, and we don’t know if people who have had the virus stay immune afterwards. We don’t know when we will have a vaccine,” he said.

He added: “So we are saying ‘get societies defended’. Yes, we will have to wear masks. There will be more physical distancing. We must protect the vulnerable. We must all learn how to interrupt transmission. It’s a revolution like happened when it was discovered dirty water bore cholera in 1850. We adapted.”

On Monday, Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that the government’s position on the general public wearing masks was under review. Professor Trisha Greenhalgh from the University of Oxford, however, told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) last week that masks “could have a substantial impact on transmission with a relatively small impact on social and economic life”.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Farage continued that he did not expect the UK’s coronavirus lockdown to be lifted until May. Noting that one “big fear” is a second wave of infection after the end of the lockdown, another was the long-term reality that coronavirus is a pandemic that will require long-term management and societal adaptation.

“There’s another fear… that this becomes one of those viruses that just doesn’t simply die out and disappear,” Mr Farage said. “It could be that this is something that keeps coming back. In that context, when David Nabarro from the World Health Organization says we may have to get used to face masks and social distancing, as a reality for perhaps an indefinite period, I fear he may be right.”

Scientists in recent weeks have acknowledged that without progress on a vaccine or treatment, coronavirus — and the resulting periods of lockdown — could disrupt the UK for up to a year. Mr Farage had said on his LBC show on Monday that normalising wearing masks “would be a price worth paying” to open up the economy and get society back to some semblance of normality.

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