The wearing of face masks will become a personal choice when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said.
All legal coronavirus restrictions are expected to be lifted in England on 19 July, subject to final confirmation.
Speaking during TV interviews on Sunday, Mr Jenrick said that the country will move into a period without legal restrictions and that people will instead have to exert “personal choice” and exercise “personal responsibility”.
The exact details of what, if any, restrictions will be in place later this month remain unknown – however, reports have suggested that legal rules on the wearing of face coverings and the exercising of social distancing will come to an end.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Mr Jenrick said,
“We are going to now move into a period where there won’t be legal restrictions – the state won’t be telling you what to do – but you will want to exercise a degree of personal responsibility and judgement.
“So different people will come to different conclusions on things like masks, for example.”
When asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whether rules will definitely be dropped that require face coverings in certain settings, Mr Jenrick said he couldn’t “make that commitment this morning”, but said the Prime Minister will make an announcement in the coming days, adding that data looked “in the right place”.
The coronavirus case rate has risen significantly in England recently, with the latest 7-day case rate standing at 191 cases per 100,000 people. Between 21,000 and 22,000 new cases have been reported in the country each day over the last four days – compared to a period in April and May where only 1,000 to 3,000 new cases were being reported daily.
Despite the rise in cases, the number of people being hospitalised with coronavirus in England has remained relatively low, as has the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
Meanwhile, 85.5% of adults in the country have now had at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, while 63.4% have had two doses.