Face masks expected to remain in supermarkets, police and NHS beyond July 19 Freedom Day


High street giants, the police and the NHS are retaining Covid-19 safeguards, including face masks, amid mounting confusion over ‘Freedom Day’.

Boris Johnson is stripping away laws requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing on Monday, despite soaring infection rates.

July 19 was originally billed as a liberation from the misery of pandemic restrictions, but many people will notice little difference.

Face masks will continue to be required on many parts of the public transport network, such as the London Underground and trams in Manchester.

High street giants, the police and the NHS are retaining Covid-19 safeguards, including face masks, amid mounting confusion over ‘Freedom Day’

Britain’s biggest retailers, cinemas and even some pub chains say safeguards will remain in place, and police officers and the NHS will continue to use face masks and social distancing for staff and patients as a safety measure.

Tesco will retain limits on the number of people allowed in stores, using a traffic light system on doors, along with other measures. 

The country’s biggest retailer also said it will ‘encourage’ customers and staff to continue wearing face coverings on safety grounds.

The same approach is being taken by Asda, Waitrose and John Lewis, Lidl, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Waterstones and many others. 

The stores will use signs and announcements asking people to wear masks, but they will not bar those who refuse.

The Government has replaced a legal requirement to wear masks in crowded situations with non-enforceable guidance.

 This applies only to England, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland maintaining the controls.

The Government has replaced a legal requirement to wear masks in crowded situations with non-enforceable guidance.

The Government has replaced a legal requirement to wear masks in crowded situations with non-enforceable guidance.

England’s chief nurse has ordered that staff, patients and visitors in all NHS settings must continue to wear face coverings and observe social distancing.

PM’s hint on face coverings into next year 

Guidance on mask wearing could be needed into next year, Boris Johnson hinted yesterday.

The Prime Minister urged people not to ‘throw caution to the wind’ when legal restrictions are lifted next week.

In a downbeat assessment, he warned there are ‘difficult days and weeks ahead’ as Covid cases surge.

Mr Johnson said the current wave of infections would lead to ‘sadly more hospitalisations and deaths’.

And he pleaded with people to continue to be ‘careful’ when restrictions ease next week.

Asked directly whether Government guidance on wearing masks would stay in place for the rest of this year, the PM said: ‘Alas, the pandemic is still with us but we are able to go ahead in a cautious way.

‘We are able to get rid of the legal restrictions but the guidance has to remain in place, at least for the time being.’ 

But he added the successful vaccination drive meant it was ‘highly probable’ the worst of the pandemic was past – provided people continued to be cautious.

Ruth May said: ‘Face coverings and social distancing measures will remain in place across healthcare settings so that the most vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, their GP surgery, pharmacy or any other healthcare settings for advice, care and treatment.

‘And it is important for the public to continue to play their part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients, particularly those who may be more vulnerable to infections.’

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has written to all officers saying that ‘existing infection control measures’ for Covid should continue.

Paddy Lillis, general-secretary of the shopworkers’ union USDAW, described the mixed messages as a ‘real mess’.

He added: ‘Retail staff already face unacceptable levels of abuse and making Covid safety measures guidance only, instead of having the force of law behind them, will create confusion and put more shopworkers at risk.

‘Wearing a face covering is an important measure to help protect workers who have no option but to interact with the public.’

UKHospitality, the trade body for pubs, restaurants and attractions, expects many members to maintain some virus protection measures.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘Hospitality businesses have invested heavily to make their venues Covid-safe.

‘Firms and their staff will want to ensure they can continue to deliver an experience that is safe and enjoyable for their teams and customers alike.’

Adding to the confusion over masks, it emerged yesterday that most airports will advise travellers to wear them while inside.

However, only some airports are covered by bylaws which allow them to enforce mask-wearing. 

The others will be able to only request passengers wear a mask, but will be powerless to take action if they refuse. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk