“We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus,” Boris Johnson said, referring to the change in guidance set to come into force after 19 July.
On Sunday, housing secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News that mask-wearing would become a matter of “personal responsibility” although it will not be enforced by the state and businesses and transit operators may still require it.
Professor Chris Whitty, the government’s Chief Medical Adviser, later set out the three scenarios in which he would continue to wear a mask once the rules are lifted: in crowded indoor spaces; if required to do so by “any competent authority”; and when doing so will make others feel more comfortable.
He said: “I would wear a mask under three situations, and I would do so, particularly at this point when the epidemic is clearly significant and rising.
“And the first is in any situation which was indoors and crowded, or indoors with close proximity to other people and that is because masks help protect other people - this is a thing we do to protect other people, this is by far its principal aim.
“The second situation I’d do it is if I was required to by any competent authority. I would have no hesitation about doing that and I would consider that was a reasonable and sensible thing if they had good reason to do that.
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“And the third reason is if someone else was uncomfortable if I did not wear a mask, as a point of common courtesy of course I would wear a mask so under all those circumstances I would do so.”
The Prime Minister echoed Professor Whitty, saying he would continue to wear a mask around strangers and “as a matter of simple courtesy,” but suggested he would not do so while alone in public places.
“I will obviously wear a mask in crowded places where you are meeting people that you don’t know, as Chris [Whitty] was saying, to protect others and as a matter of simple courtesy,” he told the press conference,” he said. “There’s a difference between that … and circumstances where you might find yourselves sitting alone for hours late at night on a train with no one else in the compartment and there I think people should be entitled to exercise some discretion.”
On Monday the UK recorded 27,334 new cases of coronavirus and nine deaths within 28 days of contracting the virus.
Last week, cases jumped by 20 percent in 24 hours, reaching the highest levels since early February.
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