There will be a “much more permissive regime” of coronavirus measures in England – with the wearing of face masks a “personal choice”, a minister has told Sky News.
Speaking to Sky News amid reports that Boris Johnson is preparing to ease the last remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England from 19 July, Robert Jenrick said the success of the UK’s vaccination programme means the government is “able to think about how we can return to normality as much as possible”.
The housing secretary told the Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme that “we are not going to put the COVID-19 virus behind us forever, we’re going to have to learn to live with it”.
Mr Jenrick said the data at the moment “looks very positive”, ahead of a final decision from the prime minister on whether step four of England’s roadmap out of COVID restrictions will take place on 19 July.
He continued: “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 and learn to live with the virus.”
According to reports in the Sunday newspapers, face masks and social distancing will no longer be required after 19 July.
Asked about face masks, Mr Jenrick said: “Like many people, I want to get away from these restrictions as quickly as I possibly can.
“We don’t want them to stay in place for a day longer than is necessary.
“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.”
He stressed it would be a matter of “personal choice”, adding that he would not be wearing one once it is no longer mandatory.