ECONOMY

Covid-19: Whitty and Vallance pledge to wear masks in some situations

T

he Government’s top scientists have pledged to wear face masks in some situations as Boris Johnson said they would become voluntary from July 19 across England

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said he would wear a mask “under three situations, and I would do so, particularly at this point when the epidemic is clearly significant and rising.”

He told a Downing Street briefing: “The first is in any situation which was indoors and crowded, or indoors with close proximity to other people.”

He said he would also do so if he was asked by any “competent authority” and thirdly, as a “common courtesy” if others felt uncomfortable.

The Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said: “I’m exactly the same in terms of mask-wearing.”

It comes as the Prime Minister told the briefing he would wear a mask in crowded places and as a matter of courtesy, but stressed that in situations such as sitting alone in a train carriage, “people should be entitled to exercise some discretion”.

Experts have been divided on whether people in England should be asked to continue to wear face masks after July 19.

Earlier on Monday, Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said he thought lifting face mask restrictions was fine, though people who are vulnerable may wish to take extra care.

He said Covid-19 “will never go away”, adding that “our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be getting infected”, though he said it will become more like the common cold over time.

Prof Hunter said he feels OK “with face mask-wearing becoming optional”, adding: “I do think that some people will probably feel less anxious by wearing them and that is OK.

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