Telegraph readers on a return to the old normal: 'Face masks can go, hand sanitiser can stay'

Telegraph Readers
·5-min read
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask because of the coronavirus pandemic leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London  - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask because of the coronavirus pandemic leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

Face masks and hand sanitiser may be here to stay despite the arrival of a Covid vaccine, according to Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. 

Prof Van-Tam noted during a Downing Street press conference this week that the habits we’ve picked up during the coronavirus pandemic, such as wearing masks, may remain staples of daily life.

In the Telegraph on Thursday, Harry de Quetteville argued that the behavioural changes we’ve adopted may stay with us for years to come.  

Telegraph readers had their say on how quickly we will return to ‘normal’ life, as well as the pandemic-inspired habits and behaviours they’d like to keep.

Read on for Telegraph readers on whether face masks and hand sanitisers are here to stay, and share your own view in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

‘I hope mask-wearing on the London Underground will become permanent’ 

@Catherine Thompson:

“I hope mask-wearing on the London Underground will become permanent. I've lost count of the times the whole carriage has been at risk from people coughing their lungs out and sneezing violently with no attempt to use a handkerchief.

“I'm not surprised that flu infections are down this year.”

‘I look forward to a time when we can smile at each other again’ 

@Val Mugridge: 

“I will definitely be binning my face mask as soon as they are no longer mandatory. The way some people wear them again and again, fling them off near me, and dispose of them in the street really disgusts me. And I really look forward to a time when we can smile at each other again.

“Of course, as in some Asian countries, those who wish to wear one for whatever reason, can continue to do so.” 

‘Personal space in public seems sacrosanct again’ 

@Simon Cass

“Masks – absolutely not!

“But, there have been some positives to come out of the madness. Hygiene standards in the hospitality business have had to improve. People are more likely to wash their hands after going to the lavatory. Personal space in public seems sacrosanct again.”

‘If masks are necessary then so be it’ 

@Peter Williman:

“If masks are necessary to keep me or others safe until we are certain that the vaccination rollout is effective, then so be it. Any other strategy is in my opinion irresponsible.”

‘My face mask won't see the light of day again!’ 

@Linda Fell: 

“Wearing a face mask isn't a ‘habit’, it's an imposition placed upon us. When they are no longer mandatory, mine will never see the light of day again!”

‘There’s no harm if more public places offer hand sanitiser’ 

@Anthony Kent:  

“On public transport commuting used to be mostly crowded, often with some people coughing or sneezing. Masks may have some limited merits here. 

“My office building has had hand sanitiser for years, and there’s no harm if more public buildings and travel hubs offer it.”

'Working from home will be normalised'

@Caroline Watson:

“Hopefully working from home will become normalised and the Tube will be less crowded. That is one benefit of the pandemic.

"Another is that public buildings and transport generally should be less crowded and more frequently and properly cleaned. Employers should also change their sickness absence policies so that people are not forced into the workplace with respiratory infections.

“Rather than wearing masks, it would be better to influence those who provide public transport and services (by writing to MPs, councillors and local papers), to ensure that we never return to the unacceptable levels of overcrowding and filthiness in public places that preceded the pandemic.” 

'People with symptoms should not go into work' 

@Derek Clews: 

“Just keep the masks on public transport and that will kill it for good.  

“The only thing I want to see retained is the practice that ill people with symptoms do not go to work and cough and sneeze over everyone else there. That should never have been allowed in the first place, yet it was mandated by the various attendance systems in place.” 

'Life is a constant process of new normals'

@Edgar Hill:

“Any observer could tell you that life is a constant process of ‘new normals’ and it's really all about how we adapt to them, and in most cases, we in the West adapt poorly and counter-intuitively.

“I believe a certain chap named Darwin had something to say about that.”

'Normal life will return for normal people'

@Paul Reynolds:

“People will flock back to sports stadia and public transport without masks, just not vulnerable people, as it should have been from the beginning of Covid.

“Even if the government cannot find the brains or bravery to tell us, stay healthy and enjoy life to the full.”

'Hopefully this will lead to cleaner public places'

@J A Froude:

“I’m sure I wasn’t alone in finding cities increasingly dirty and unhygienic over the last few years.  Every surface seemed to have a smear of grease, discarded half eaten food and hordes of dirty people. 

“If this episode means we clean up public places then good, but I’m doubtful.”

'Elderly will be weary of going to crowded indoor settings'

@Matthew Westbury:

“It will be socially unacceptable to turn up for work ill, which is a good thing.

“We’ll all use sanitizer more.

“Masks will only be used in certain situations, such as the London Underground.

“Social distancing will pretty much disappear.

“I do think the elderly will be very wary of going to theatres and other crowded indoor settings.”

'I would happily go back to old habits'

@Andrew Beer:

“I’m staggered and saddened that people have so easily exchanged their liberty for perceived safety. 

“I’m approaching 50 and would happily go back to old habits instantly without a moment’s concern for my health. 

“If others insist on hiding from the virus then so be it, but set the rest of us free to get on with actually living.”

When do you think Britain will return to the 'old normal', if ever? Let us know in the comments section below.