Face masks may be mandatory on public transport longer than 15 minutes FOREVER, warns PHE
IT may be mandatory for Brits to wear a mask on public transport journeys longer than 15 minutes forever, PHE warned.
Public Health England deputy director Dr Susan Hopkins said it could be mandatory for people to wear masks on public transport after July 19, when Covid restrictions are expected to be lifted.
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His comments came as part of his testimony before the Commons Scientific Committee.
Responding to a question from Conservative MP Aaron Bell about “non-pharmaceutical interventions” (NPIs or restrictions) that may need to remain in place after July 19, she said much of this would come down to social responsibility, and those taking decisions on things like masks for herself.
Dr Hopkins, who is also the chief medical adviser, NHS Test and Trace, said: ‘It’s a balance. In some countries, like Sweden, they have done a lot through social responsibility.
“In other countries, they have legislated heavily.
“So I think there is a middle way, because we have widely deployed vaccination, which potentially requires, in certain areas where the risk is higher, to examine them. [NPIs, or restrictions].
“We could consider, for example, transport; for those of us who regularly wrap up in the tube, we might feel more comfortable if everyone were asked to wear a mask for those very close encounters for periods potentially longer than 15 minutes. “
She also warned that if the Delta variant was “unmitigated”, left to propagate without any action, the R-value could be “greater than five and maybe up to seven.”
She told the Science and Technology Committee: “We see it as much greater transmissibility than Alpha, which had greater transmissibility than viruses that were previously unmitigated – so if we were in the real world where we didn’t have any of the measurements that we were seeing right now – we would estimate R greater than five and maybe up to seven.
“So compared to where we were at the start of this, where we thought the R-value was 2.5.
“This is why we need people to get vaccinated because it is a clear mitigation measure, this is why we need people to take care, to be cautious, especially in health facilities. health.”
Dr Hopkins also added that she believed people would have more personal responsibility after the new “Freedom Day” on July 19.
She told the committee: “I think there will be some social responsibility that people will take on, especially for those who are elderly or immunocompromised or at higher risk of infection.
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“I think we will all have to make decisions for ourselves, including wearing masks, better ventilation, hand hygiene.
“So we can see that some people, not all, are going to change their behaviors, and especially those who are more concerned about their health or the health of the people they live with, it will be up to governments to decide what rules and regulations should be. in place and what legislation will need to be maintained after July 19. ”
She added: “But in more general societal areas, such as stores, I think it’s going to come down to personal opinions and responsibilities, rather than longer term legislation.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously hoped to lift all Covid restrictions on June 21 but was forced to pushing that date back to July 19 after the UK saw a spike in cases that was attributed to the spread of the Delta variant, which originated in India.