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People should wear masks ‘indefinitely’ even when rules ease, scientist says

Mask wearing

A scientist has recommended people wear masks ‘indefinitely (PA/AFP/Getty/Rex)

A scientist advising the Government has recommended people wear a face mask ‘indefinitely’ despite reports there are plans to scrap the measure.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to be preparing to update the nation this week on his plans for unlocking on July 19, with reports he will be ending a host of domestic restrictions, including mask-wearing.

But Professor Adam Finn, from the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said face coverings are extremely valuable under certain circumstances and he does not plan to ditch them.

He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: ‘Well on a personal level I shall certainly be continuing to wear a mask if I’ve got any symptoms or if I’m in an enclosed space with lots of other people for a prolonged period of time, indefinitely in fact.’

Prof Finn explained: ‘I think we learned, as paediatricians, we learned that we can avoid massive problems with children getting sick in the winter by doing these kind of measures.

‘We simply didn’t see the epidemics of respiratory viruses last winter that we’ve seen every year throughout my career.’

Pressed on whether he would ‘get rid’ of his mask after July 19 if permitted to do so, Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said on the same programme: ‘I will. I don’t particularly want to wear a mask. I don’t think a lot of people enjoy doing it.’

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, added he believed people would naturally be more cautious and may continue to wear face masks out of choice.

He told Andrew Marr on BBC One: ‘I think some people will choose to be more cautious. Some people may choose to wear face masks in particular circumstances, such as crowded environments, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those habits to reduce infections are a good thing to keep.’

A handout picture released by the BBC shows NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis speaking to British journalist Andrew Marr during an appearance on the BBC political programme The Andrew Marr Show in London on July 4, 2021. (Photo by JEFF OVERS / BBC / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT

NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis (Getty)

Dr Ellie Cannon also said she believes people may continue to wear face masks, telling BBC Breakfast: ‘I’ve heard a lot of people say to me, who travel on the bus or the London Underground particularly in the winter, that they would absolutely put on a face mask, particularly in the winter because we all get used to having these coughs and colds and flu and if you can do something very simple to prevent that, why wouldn’t you?’

But Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, which provides modelling evidence to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said July 19 is ‘probably the right time’ to consider ending the measure.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘It’s an interesting one. If we are going to do that I think probably this is the right time to consider that.’

He said he has been worried about some commentators suggesting masks might be around for a long time, as he pointed out they can be difficult for people who are hard of hearing and those who struggle with their mental health.

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