Masks 'to be ditched in shops with social distancing axed' in June 21 'lift-off'

People will be able to unmask in shops and workplaces as social distancing ends on June 21, a report claims.

The next stage of the lockdown easing is due to kick in from Monday, allowing people to hug and a tentative return to mixing indoors in pubs and restaurants.

It is hoped the final stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown will see the protection provided by vaccines replace social distancing measures by the summertime.

Mask rules have remained under constant review, amid the possibility some measures could linger as previously shut parts of the economy such as nightclubs and big events such as concerts return.

Officials are discussing ditching face coverings rules and only making masks mandatory on public transport by the end of June, according to The Sun.

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People wear masks at a Tube station
Face coverings may remain mandatory on public transport beyond June 21

An insider told the newspaper: “The current thinking points to social distancing going and mask wearing only in limited settings like buses, trains and the Tube.

“Obviously this is all dependent on final sign-off but the data is looking good and the political will is there for a proper lift-off.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman told the Mirror No10 could not comment on the masks report and pointed to the details of the government’s planned roadmap out of lockdown.

However reports are suggesting growing fears over the presence of the India variant of Covid in the UK could cause some delays to the final phase of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) committee will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday over growing concerns, according to i News.

Fans watch Blossom perform at a live music concert hosted by Festival Republic in Sefton Park in Liverpool
It is hoped social distancing measures will end by summer allowing for the return of mass events like this ‘test’ concert in Liverpool

A member of the committee told the i that “a delay is possible” in relation to the final phase of lockdown easing in England on June 21.

The Prime Minister has warned the B1617.2 strain, currently among three mutant variants ripping through India causing chaos and heartbreak, is “of increasing concern” in the UK.

Surge testing has been introduced in areas including Bolton, Greater Manchester, to help stem the spread of cases.

COG-UK, the cross body group of experts tasked with keeping track of new mutations, has identified 1,723 cases of the Indian strain of the virus.

Young gay couple welcoming their mother at the apartment door
Hugs will be allowed again from Monday – although people were warned to be cautious about embracing

If this figure is confirmed by Public Health England in Thursday’s weekly update, it has tripled in the space of just one week.

Across the UK, the weekly average of all Covid infections rose slightly for the third day in a row on Wednesday.

Daily deaths remained relatively low, with 11 new fatalities reported nationwide.

Vaccine first doses have passed 35million, and more than 18m have received two doses.

Addressing the Commons on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said new variants of the virus including the India strain pose “a potentially lethal danger”.

“So caution has to be our watchword,” he added.


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