An MP has hedged his “faith and trust” in the common sense of the British people after the government moved to ditch mandatory mask-wearing from 19th July.
It comes after Nadhim Zahawi announced yesterday that the public will still be ‘expected’ to wear face coverings following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, despite it no longer being a legal requirement.
The latest instalment of the pinballing mask-saga also saw multiple appearances from health minister, Edward Argar, who today announced he “probably would” wear a mask on an empty train carriage, as well as a busy one.
Appearing on GMB this morning, Argar spoke of his confidence in the public as the country tumbles into a new era of “personal responsibility”:
“We think now is the right time to move to step four and we will, subject to what the Prime Minister says later, be issuing clear guidance.
“I, like the Prime Minister, have faith and trust in the innate common sense of the British people to move away from having to be compelled by law, to reading that guidance and forming a common-sense judgement on the circumstances when they will wear masks.”
“The question I would pose is: if not now – in terms of the easing of the legal restrictions – when?”
Recipe for confusion
Argar’s comments constitute the most recent knot in the governments tangled messaging on face coverings, coined a “recipe for confusion” that could lead to “more confrontations” by shadow education secretary, Kate Green, in an interview with Sky News.
Sunak:— David Schneider (@davidschneider) July 11, 2021
“I’ll stop wearing a mask as soon as possible”
“I won’t wear a mask on a quiet train even if asked”
“I won’t wear a mask”
“I can’t wait to stop wearing a mask”
[already not wearing mask in car back from football]
In unrelated news: https://t.co/mP9MckzQQS
Government ministers’ over-zealous admissions that they would not continue to wear masks last week have since been laid to rest following vaccine minister Zahawi’s comments suggesting a more cautious approach:
“I think it is important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we will set out tomorrow will demonstrate that – including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor, enclosed spaces,” he said.
“The best way to tackle Covid is to move away from government diktat and leave it to the public’s sense of personal responsibility” pic.twitter.com/CX6kv0uHSa— David Schneider (@davidschneider) July 11, 2021
Meanwhile in Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham has implored people to do “the respectful thing” and continue to carry and wear face masks while in enclosed spaces, including on public transport:
”I will ask people to put themselves in the shoes of somebody who is going by bus to have chemotherapy. I will ask people to put themselves in the shoes of somebody who has a compromised immune system.”
With data showing that 221,052 people tested positive for the virus in the last seven days, experts are wrangling to encourage the public to continue using face coverings.
In a thread debunking contentious lines of questioning around the efficacy of wearing masks, professor of Primary Care at Oxford University, Trisha Greenhalgh, spoke of a need to shift the focus to protecting ourselves against airborne transmission.
Well worth the read, the 82-part thread explains that even if masks reduce transmission by a tiny amount, the population benefits are still huge.
LONG THREAD on masks. Mute if not interested.— Trisha Greenhalgh (@trishgreenhalgh) July 11, 2021
Do masks work? Why do some people claim they don’t work? Do they cause harm? What kinds of masks should we wear? How does masking need to change now we know that Covid is airborne? When can we stop wearing them?
Get your popcorn.
“In a nutshell, we need to *reframe* the key mask research question from “what is the effect size of masks on individuals?” to “how might universal masking impact on the highly non-linear transmission dynamics of this curious virus – which behaves VERY differently to flu?”
*This* is why I and others are banging on about masking in public places. If people in England stop wearing masks on so-called “Freedom day” (19 July), it is highly likely that we will see a vast number of super-spreader events where large numbers of people become infected.
“Not only do we need to keep wearing masks, but we need masks that protect us against *airborne transmission* as well as against droplets. Yes it’s a pain. Yes prolonged masking is a political hot potato bc “freedom”. But don’t shoot the messenger: I didn’t invent this virus.”