Environment secretary George Eustice suggested the legal requirement to wear masks in certain places should be gone on July 19, while Jacob Rees-Mogg said the date must be an “end point” to restrictions.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak meanwhile told the Times CEO Summit it was his “strong expectation” that restrictions will be scrapped next month.
Their comments appeared at odds with Downing Street, which said “no final decisions” have been made on whether all restrictions would be lifted on that date.
It comes after the prime minister delayed step four of his road map out of lockdown from June 21 to July 19 while insisting the new date was a “terminus”, suggesting there would be no more delays.
Discussing what restrictions might be in place from then, Eustice said he hoped to be able to ditch his face mask
“Well, what we want to do on July 19, and the prime minister said that the data looks good to be able to have that end, is to remove all of the legal restrictions,” the environment secretary told Sky News.
“That’s all of the legal requirements to do things, to be taken away completely.
“Now, whether there will still be some people who might choose to wear masks or whether it may be advisory in some settings, that’s a separate matter.
“But the objective of that final stage is to remove the legal requirement to do these things.”
Asked if he would still wear a mask once restrictions end, Eustice said: “I wouldn’t, no.
“I have to be honest, once I’m told that it’s safe not to, I want to get back to normal. I think a lot of people will want to shed those masks.”
Meanwhile, Rees-Mogg was asked about the prospect of Covid certification being used after July 19.
The system could show whether people have tested negative for coronavirus or had the vaccine to allow them access to certain events and venues.
Conservative MP Chris Green (Bolton West) said he would have expected Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to have appeared before MPs to set out the arguments over the project – including the ethics, practicality or necessity of it.
Rees-Mogg replied in the Commons: “As I said last week, terminus is Paddington not Crewe.
“It is the end of the line, it is not an interchange and that must be the key part of terminus day.
“Lots of evidence has been gathered in relation to Covid status certificates. Final decisions have not been made, but the government will update the House on the road map as it continues.
“But his point on terminus is right, it is an end point and so it should be.”
No final decisions have been taken about what measures are requiredDowning Street
Asked whether all restrictions would be lifted on July 19, the PM’s spokesperson told reporters: “It is right that obviously we want to get back to as close to normal as is possible post-step four.
“However, no final decisions have been taken about what measures are required.
“Those sort of issues fall under the certification reviews.
“No final decisions have been taken on those but we will set out the exact details ahead of step four.”
Asked whether Johnson hoped to “bin” his own face masks on July 19, his spokesman said: “That would depend. The prime minister, should there be any requirement for it in future, would happy to comply with them.
“But, as I say, no decisions have been taken on what will or will not be required in future.”
Pressed on why Cabinet minister George Eustice had been telling broadcasters all restrictions were likely to be lifted next month, Downing Street said the government “do want” to be able to get rid of as many curbs on freedom as possible.
The spokesperson added: “All I can say is that we continue to consider the latest data and we will take a final decision in due course.
“It is entirely right to say we do want to remove as many restrictions as are safe to do so once we take the steps to step four.”
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