politics

I’ll keep wearing a mask on Tube after July 19, says Kwasi Kwarteng


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Cabinet minister has revealed he will “probably” still wear his face mask on London’s tube network following Freedom Day.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he believed in “individual responsibility” but he would continue wearing a mask on the Underground after mask rules are ditched in England on July 19.

Boris Johnson has said face masks will be a matter of “personal choice” after that date, but some companies have said they will continue to ask people to wear coverings.

Some airlines have said masks will still be compulsory and the World Health Organisation still advises masks continuing to be mandatory on public transport, in shops and in crowded places.

It comes amid a growing row with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who has urged the government to retain the mandatory requirement for coverings to be worn on public transport. Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham appeared to agree saying the change could cause “real problems”.

Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: “I’ve always said that I believe in individual responsibility. I think businesses have their own discretion – their own judgement.

“Personally, I use the Tube a lot in London and I would probably use them – wear a mask – in that context in the Tube in public transport. That’s a personal view. It’s not something that I would mandate or necessarily dictate to other people.”

Meanwhile, Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said it made no sense not to insist on the wearing of masks in crowded situations.

“We need sensible, well thought out, good plans. Of course we have to make the most of the summer but it doesn’t mean we have to open the door wide open.”

Sir Paul said he also believes coronavirus testing must continue and there should be a focus on creating a safe work environment.

“Letting the virus spread in these circumstances encourages a new variant arising in the UK itself. We could create a variant resistant to the vaccine.”

Unite union has said that dropping mask-wearing on public transport would be “gross negligence”.

Professor Laurence Lovat, epidemiologist and clinical director at WEISS Centre at UCL, questioned the decision to make masks optional.

He told Sky News: “I do wonder whether it’s a wise thing to be doing.”

“There is no doubt that face masks have an enormous impact on the transmission of droplets – these tiny aerosols that sort of float around in the air.

“And one thing we really don’t want to be doing is to have a major spike of patients coming into hospitals again just as hospitals are starting to settle down and get back to routine work

“And face masks are a really simple way to prevent people from transmitting disease to others.”

“We want people to exercise their personal responsibility but remember the value of face coverings both in protecting themselves and others.”



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