End of the face mask in the fight against Covid? About 4.3 MILLION people stopped wearing coverings this summer, data shows
- The Office for National Statistics weekly survey found that 89 percent still wore masks
- By comparison, more than 98 percent of people wore them in early May
- England no longer requires the wearing of face masks, unlike the decentralized nations
Millions of Britons have stopped wearing face masks in public this summer, government data shows.
A survey by the Office for National Statistics found that 89 percent of people wore coverings outdoors in the week ending Sept. 5. By comparison, at the beginning of May, when the second wave was waning, the take-up was about 98 percent.
This equates to about 4.3 million people who have turned their backs on masks, figures suggest.
Face masks help stop the spread of the coronavirus by trapping tiny droplets exhaled by infected people. But the science about how well they work is patchy, although experts insist the benefits of wearing coverings are clear.
Boris Johnson scrapped rules mandating the wearing of masks indoors in England on July 19, despite No10’s top scientists urging people to continue using them.
But when he unveiled his winter plan this week, the prime minister warned they could still be brought back if the virus spirals out of control again.
About 89 percent of Britons said they were wearing face masks outdoors at the end of August. In comparison: in May that was 98 percent
Fewer Britons wear face masks outdoors than at the beginning of May, official figures suggest (stock)
Face masks don’t have to be worn in the House of Commons because MPs are not ‘strangers’, says Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid said today that Tory MPs are not required to wear face masks in the crowded House of Commons because they are not ‘strangers’.
The health minister also defended cabinet ministers for not wearing face coverings during a meeting yesterday morning.
He said the meeting, with ministers sitting shoulder to shoulder around the traditional cabinet table, was “perfectly in line” with government guidelines on masks.
Mr Javid said people should “consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people they don’t normally spend time with.”
Opposition MPs have accused Tory MPs of being ‘cavalier’ with the health of other MPs after many in the House of Commons stopped wearing masks.
The ONS survey on coronavirus and social impact highlighted the decline in face mask use across the country.
The survey, of about 3,400 adults, asked people if they had used a face covering when they were outdoors in the past seven days.
England does not currently require them to be used, but they are still required on Transport for London.
Scotland still has rules that say masks must be worn in shops, on public transport and while sitting in restaurants and pubs.
In Wales, the coverings are still mandatory on public transport and indoor public areas.
And in Northern Ireland they still have to be worn in shops and restaurants.
During the pandemic, there has been a fierce scientific debate about how well they protect against transmission, despite the fact that almost every country in the world mandates or encourages their use.
Laboratory tests and observational studies have shown that masks can prevent infected people from exhaling up to 80 percent of the virus into the air and also protect wearers from inhaling up to 50 percent of the particles.
But real-world studies, which require more scientific rigor, have yielded mixed results.
Experts previously told MailOnline that vaccines work so well that there was little reason to wear face masks.
But they said the covers could still be useful in hospitals, care homes and crowded places with poor ventilation, such as the duct.
They said that high-quality FFP3 masks would be the best option, over homemade cloth masks.
It comes as Health Minister Sajid Javid said yesterday that Mr Johnson and his cabinet were not required to wear masks in tight spaces because they were not “strangers”.
Asked for a photo of a cabinet meeting where no one was wearing face masks, Javid urged Sky News yesterday: “That matches perfectly with what the Prime Minister said yesterday and what I said yesterday.
“Because what we said is that people should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they’re with strangers, when they’re with people they don’t normally spend time with.”
Government guidelines read: “We expect and recommend that members of the public continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed areas where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet.”