Free Your Face! UK to Ditch Mask Mandate After Lifting Lockdown

Demonstrators take part in an anti-lockdown, anti-Covid-19 vaccination passport, 'Unite for Freedom' protest in central London on April 24, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

The British government has vowed to enact a “much more permissive regime” of coronavirus regulations in which the wearing of masks will become “personal choice”, a government minister has promised.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that he will personally refrain from wearing masks after the final lifting of lockdown restrictions in England on July 19th, which the government has promised will be “irreversible”.

“It does seem as if we can now move forward and move to a much more permissive regime where we move away from many of those restrictions that have been so difficult and learn to live with the virus,” Jenrick told Sky News.

Asked specifically on the issue of masks, the minister said: “Like many people, I want to get away from these restrictions as quickly as I possibly can,” adding: “We don’t want them to stay in place for a day longer than is necessary.”

“We are going to now move into a period where there won’t be legal restrictions — the state won’t be telling you what to do — but you will want to exercise a degree of personal responsibility and judgement.

“So different people will come to different conclusions on things like masks, for example.”

Jenrick said that it will be a “personal choice” and said that he will no longer wear a mask after the June 19th reopening.

According to a report from The Times, the government is also planning on dropping the mandate for pubs, restaurants and other public venues to force their customers to sign into the government tracking system via smartphone QR codes as well.

Over the past year, people in Britain who were found to have come into contact with someone who tested positive for the Chinese virus would have to self-isolate for ten days after being pinged by the track and trace system.

As has been typical, the scientific establishment has been less in favour of loosening restrictions, with Adam Finn, a member of the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, (JCVI) saying: “I shall certainly be continuing to wear a mask if I’ve got any symptoms or if I’m in an enclosed space with lots of other people for a prolonged period of time — indefinitely in fact.”

While the government has of late been pushing the idea that the United Kingdom will need to “learn to live” with the coronavirus, top scientists have already been warning of future lockdowns in the winter, before the current restrictions have even been lifted.

Dr Susan Hopkins of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said last month: “We may have to do further lockdowns this winter. I can’t predict the future. It really depends on whether the hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also hedged on his promise of an “irreversible” return to freedom, saying last month: “You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for or accounted for.”

The recently installed new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has been pushing against the idea of further lockdown restrictions, however, writing in the Mail on Sunday: “We are going to have to learn to accept COVID and find ways to cope with it, just as we do with flu.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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