Make face masks mandatory in England again

To: Sajid Javid, health secretary

The government lifted remaining coronavirus restrictions in England on 19 July, including the rules requiring the use of face masks. But keeping face masks in indoor public places is a small action that could save lives as the next wave of infections grows.

Polling shows that a large majority of the public support face masks continuing to be mandatory on public transport, in shops and in crowded places. Unions representing transport and retail workers also support the measure, and it is still the current World Health Organisation advice.

Masks are just not about protecting yourself – they are about us all protecting each other. Boris Johnson talks about making masks a “personal choice”, but the person making the choice is not the person being put at risk.

There are many people who cannot be vaccinated against Covid, whose immune systems do not respond to the vaccine, or who have not yet been called for their second dose. If we stop wearing face masks, they will be either stuck indoors or put at risk.

Wales is keeping the requirement for face masks until COVID “is no longer a public health threat”, and in Scotland face masks will still be required for “some time to come” – the same should be the case in England.

Highlighted comments

I have a primary immunodeficiency so the vaccine won’t work for me and it could be dangerous for me to get covid. I also have a busy city centre customer facing job and have to use public transport. Not wearing masks means me putting my life at risk to earn money.

Joanna, Manchester

It’s a small thing we can do that could have a big impact on reducing transmission – I’m especially concerned about vaccine-resistant variants emerging, and about exposing young people to long covid (which I’ve been suffering from for over 15 months now).

Jenny, Leicestershire

Wearing a mask inconveniences nobody and could save somebody. It has zero to do with the economy. There is no sound argument against them.

Roger, West London

I’m clinically extremely vulnerable as I’m immunosuppressed. I have just had a big operation to remove a cancer. With no restrictions this is going to make it very unsafe to go inside anywhere. Which makes it discriminatory against vulnerable people. I’d like the choice to go out to places like before covid, now I just won’t be able to go. I don’t want to be one of Boris’ death statistics due to relying on others’ common sense

Yvonne, Warwickshire

Herd immunity – that’s what Boris is going for and ignoring the science.

Jacquie, Dover

I am a front line worker and have to travel on public transport so I will be at risk. Mask wearing is a small price to pay for protecting ourselves and others. And the science indicates that it only works if the majority of people are wearing them.

Una, North London

Because of her continuing cancer treatment my partner can’t be vaccinated, and a dose of Covid would almost certainly kill her. Like everyone else in this situation it means that she has to be come a hermit again, as do I, so once again our shop has to close on ‘freedom’ day.

Dave, Norfolk

I have lymphoma, the vaccine is unlikely to have worked for me, I’m also a teacher and will have to work. Masks protect me, my students and their families.

Melanie, Nottinghamshire

I’m in 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Removing mask legislation is insane and puts me and my baby at risk. I’ve not been able to get both vaccinations yet, but have tried! Masks are a small price to pay to save lives and protect the public.

Miriam, Oxford

I’m on daily chemo for a blood cancer & have a significantly impaired immune system. The vaccines don’t give us the same antibodies as others. I’ve been shielding & had a really challenging existence. Face masks would tip the balance for many many people with significant underlying health issues.

Annie, Lancaster

That small act of keeping masks on in supermarkets and trains and buses will save lives.

Jill, East London



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