The new health secretary said he would be carrying a face covering with him “for the forseeable future”, after the PM last night announced masks would become voluntary after 19 July.
“For the foreseeable future I will be carrying a face mask with me, I think that’s a very responsible thing for anyone to do. As I have said, the pandemic is not over,” Javid told Sky News.
On Monday Boris Johnson announced the restrictions that are set to be lifted on 19 July, as part of the government’s fourth and final step on its “roadmap” out of lockdown.
Face masks will no longer be legally required, but the government will encourage people to continue wearing them in enclosed public spaces – eg: public transport.
Javid echoed this sentiment today when he said that his personal preference would be to continue wearing a mask in public in certain situations.
“If I’m in a crowded or enclosed space, I will wear a face mask. In fact I will wear one if I was next to someone or near someone that felt uncomfortable with others not wearing face masks.
“And that’s what I mean by personality responsibility,” he said.
Ministers have indicated that after 16 months of social distancing restrictions in the UK, the government is now shifting the onus on to individuals and businesses – who will be able to choose to continue some measures at their own discretion.
Following the PM’s announcement yesterday, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said he would wear a mask in three scenarios – in any indoor crowded situation; if asked to do so by “any competent authority”; and if someone else was uncomfortable if he did not wear one “as a point of common courtesy”.
Boris Johnson then echoed Witty’s comments when asked whether he would wear a mask after 19 July, and said: “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.
“There’s a difference between that – and I think everyone can understand 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,” Johnson added.