Face masks and social distancing will soon no longer be required in England as the UK government adopts a “much more permissive regime” of COVID-19 measures, according to a report. The news comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to ease the last remaining restrictions in England later this month.
The data that will determine if lockdown restrictions can be lifted this month is looking “very positive”, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Sunday.
“It does seem as if we can now move forward and move to a much more permissive regime where we move away from many of those restrictions that have been so difficult for us,” he said.
“It will be a different period where we as private citizens make these judgments rather than the government telling you what to do.”
Asked if he would stop wearing a face mask if permitted, the minister said: “I will. I don’t particularly want to wear a mask, I don’t think a lot of people enjoy doing it, we will be moving into a phase though where these will be matters of personal choice.”
The Sunday Times newspaper quoted a source who said that while modelling predicted that unlocking would lead to more cases, the success of the vaccine rollout meant the government was “confident there will be no risk of additional pressure on the NHS”.
Separately, the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said a steep rise in COVID cases would not derail the planned reopening.
The UK government is only responsible for lockdown restrictions in England. Since health is a devolved matter, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own policies in relation to public health issues.