Ministers “Haven’t Ruled Out” Ending Mask-Wearing Requirements on June 21st, Says Matt Hancock

Sky News presenter Stephen Dixon seemed desperate to pull a sliver of positive news out of Matt Hancock in an interview this morning. Discussing the rules on mask-wearing, the Health Secretary said: “In general settings, we’re keeping the rules on masks as they are for this step [of the “roadmap” out of lockdown, beginning on May 17th] outside of schools.” Hancock claimed that “the cost of [mask-wearing]… is really, really small”, though he failed to address the concerns raised in a recent peer-reviewed study in the scientific journal Water Research that “the toxicity of some of the chemicals found and the postulated risks of the rest of the present particles and molecules, raises the question of whether disposable plastic face masks are safe to be used on a daily basis”. He clarified that, for now, the rules “will be staying the same”.

“So there’s a possibility at least that the mask rule… could go in June,” Stephen asked. “We haven’t ruled that out,” Hancock returned – but it turns out that much else still hasn’t been ruled out.

We haven’t ruled that out when it comes to where we end up on social distancing rules and anything to do with certification domestically – for instance for large events. Whether that goes ahead… will all be set out ahead of step four [of the “roadmap”]… not before June 21st.

https://twitter.com/skystephen/status/1392011015697600514?s=20

Given the extent to which the Health Secretary talked about face masks before being asked about dates, it seems as if the decision has already been made (at least privately) that mask mandates will remain in place beyond the “end” of lockdown, as per previous reports.

In the interview, quoted on the Sky News website, Hancock also discussed the updated rules on hugging.

We will be changing the rules to be far more about people taking personal responsibility, exercising common sense according to their circumstances.

We will set out really clearly the risks. People understand the risks – we know that – and we’ll make that very, very plain and then people can exercise their own personal responsibility.

… Grandparents, sometimes for the first time in over a year, will be able to be close to their grandchildren, but taking into account the individual risk of catching this disease which differs according to circumstances.

Worth reading in full.

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