UK minister will ditch face mask as soon as he's legally allowed to

·2-min read
TOPSHOT - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Conservative MP George Eustice (L) react during a visit to Cornish Clotted Cream manufacturer
George Eustice and Boris Johnson visited a Cornish clotted cream manufacturer in 2019. (Getty Images)

Environment secretary George Eustice has said he is looking forward to ditching his face mask as soon as there is not a “legal compulsion” to wear one.

All legal coronavirus restrictions are set to be dropped on 19 July, but experts have warned some measures, such as the use of face-coverings, could be required in order to manage levels of coronavirus in the community.

When asked on Sky News on Thursday if he would still wear a face-covering 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.”

Watch: UK minister says there will be no 'legal compulsion' to wear face mask when restrictions are lifted

Face mask advice outside Sainsbury's supermarket as the national coronavirus lockdown three continues on 5th March 2021 in London, United Kingdom. With the roadmap for coming out of the lockdown has been laid out, this nationwide lockdown continues to advise all citizens to follow the message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives, and the streets of the capital are quiet and empty of normal numbers of people. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Face masks have been required in shops since last year. (Getty Images)

Eustice told ITV’s Good Morning Britain there was a “separate question” about whether “there may be some guidance that on certain settings like the (London) Underground it might make sense to still wear it”.

He added: “That’s obviously a judgment we will take at the time, but the objective in this final stage is to remove the legal requirement to have one.”

No 10 said, while it was “entirely right to say we do want to remove as many restrictions as are safe to do so”, it was still studying the data before making a decision on what freedoms could be restored on 19 July.

Asked about Eustice’s remarks, the prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “It is right that obviously we want to get back to as close to normal as is possible post-Step 4.

“However, no final decisions have been taken about what measures are required.”

Pressed on whether Johnson hoped to “bin” his own face masks at the end of the road map, his spokesman said: “That would depend.

“The prime minister, should there be any requirement for it in future, would be happy to comply with them.

“But, as I say, no decisions have been taken on what will or will not be required in future.”

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