Boris Johnson is getting flack over his plans to ditch rules on wearing face masks. Doctors, regional mayors, trade unions and health charities are among those who have expressed fears over the newly announced relaxed measures.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he believed lifting all restrictions in one go would be “reckless” – and is calling for face coverings to remain mandatory on public transport. He said:
“To throw off all protections at the same time when the infection rate is still going up is nonsense. We need a balanced approach, we need to keep key protections in place, including masks, including ventilation and crucially… proper payments to those who need to self-isolate.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul of the British Medical Association said it was “increasingly concerning” for Mr Johnson to “decide to go full steam” on easing measures – despite warnings over rising hospital cases and deaths. He urged ministers to “ensure the wearing of masks is compulsory until the rampant spread of infection has been brought under control and more of the population is fully vaccinated”.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin have also expressed concern at the ending of the legal requirement to wear masks on trains, trams and buses.
And London mayor Sadiq Khan said further discussions would be held between transport bosses and the government: He said:
“My mask protects you, your mask protects me. The wearing of face coverings on public transport helps reduce the spread of Covid, and crucially gives Londoners confidence to travel – which is vital to our economic recovery.”
Many Tories who have long-campaigned to end the restrictions welcomed the announcement in the Commons, with some shouting “hallelujah” as Sajid Javid spelt out the plans to MPs.