Boris Johnson dumped his mandatory masks diktat from July 19 to prevent the events hospitality industry losing £4billion because the public were determined to boycott football matches and gigs if they were forced to wear one, it emerged today.
The Prime Minister and the cabinet was shown research that public disdain for wearing face coverings would see millions continue to avoid sporting, music and arts events as society opens up, further decimating those sectors.
The decision to dump masks came despite SAGE scientists warning ministers they were a 'baseline measure' that should be kept 'to control a resurgence in infections'.
A Whitehall source told the i newspaper that a research paper warning this would cost the economy £4billion was the 'driving force' for scrapping England's mandatory mask order. As a result there will be no masks at football and gigs from July 19.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that mask laws would be axed despite pressure from scientists
Research found that some people would stay away from gigs and sport (Euro 2020 semi pictured last night) if they had to wear a mask
There have been warnings of a new so-called 'culture war' erupting over coverings as lockdown restrictions are scrapped from July 19
Britain's daily Covid hospital admissions have reached a four month high, rising by 50 per cent in a week. Department of Health figures also showed hospitalisations reached 406 on June 30
ShopsInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer Sainsbury's: Chief Executive Simon Roberts said: 'I think in the end it will come down to the choices that individual customers and colleagues want to make. It is going to be driven by customer and by colleague choice.' He added: 'We're clearly going to follow the Government advice, we'll continue to listen to our customers and colleagues and we'll respect and support the individual choices the customers and colleagues want to make.' Westfield: Jacinta Rowsell, general manager at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: 'At the moment we actively ensure our guests are wearing masks when they're visiting the centre, and with the changes post July 19 we will continue to encourage guests to wear masks when they're coming into the centre.' Asda: Asda says it is waiting for the government guidance to change before announcing its role.
AirlinesBritish Airways: BA is expected to keep masks, with a spokesman saying: 'We keep our policies under constant review.' Tui: The firm hinted travellers could be required to wear face coverings after restrictions relax further. Ryanair: A spokesman said: 'In order to protect the health of our customers and crew, the use of face masks will still be mandatory across all Ryanair flights.' easyJet: A spokesman said: 'At present there are no changes to easyJet's on-board mask policy. We continue to be guided by our in-house medical adviser and a number of key industry governing bodies… and at present their guidance around the wearing of masks on board remains unchanged.' Virgin Atlantic: The firm hinted travellers could be required to wear face coverings after restrictions relax further.
PubsCity Pub Group: Chief Executive Clive Watson said staff will be asked to wear masks with customers encouraged to do the same.
Scientists remain concerned about the decision, with Dominic Harrison, director of public health for Blackburn-with-Darwen in Lancashire, a Delta hotspot, saying: 'I generally share the view of some colleagues that it is time for us to open up as much as possible – but the three things we need to make this safer are; to get on with vaccination for those aged 12-plus as soon as possible, increase ventilation measures in schools and other public indoor space and retain mask wearing (as now) in enclosed public space.
'With these mitigations we should be able to have maximum freedoms and minimal risk – but we need to be really clear – we will still not be completely risk free.'
But sociology professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said that the benefits of masks 'have always been uncertain because the quality of the evidence in both directions is so weak'.
The Nottingham Trent University academic said he would stop wearing a covering from the so-called 'Freedom Day' in 'solidarity' with various groups including 'people with communication difficulties, whether auditory and unable to lip-read' and 'all the small children whose education has been disrupted by the lack of visual clues, especially in language development'.
Speaking to Sky News, Professor Dingwall said he accepted that others may take a different view but went on: 'I will not allow them to suggest that I am less moral or caring and I will expect them to respect my choices as I respect theirs.'
At a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that mask laws would be axed - but sowed confusion after admitting that people would still be encouraged to wear coverings in 'enclosed and crowded places'.
He confirmed that he would continue to wear a mask in certain scenarios out of politeness. Mr Johnson was echoed by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who said he would cover his mouth and nose when in crowded spaces, when asked to by a competent authority, or if he felt that not wearing a mask would make another person uncomfortable.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, added: 'I'm exactly the same in terms of mask-wearing.'
Experts appear divided on whether people in England should be asked to continue to wear face masks after July 19, with Dr Laurence Aitchison, from the department of computer science at the University of Bristol, saying: 'Our research has shown mask-wearing reduces the spread of Covid-19 by around 25 per cent if everyone wears them.'
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said he thought lifting face mask restrictions was fine, though people who are vulnerable may wish to take extra care as he warned Covid 'will never go away'.
But masks are controversial among anti-lockdown Tory backbenchers. Ex-minister Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of MPs, told the Telegraph newspaper 'how easily we have forgotten that at the beginning of this crisis, the scientific advice was that the public shouldn't wear masks'.
Shoppers and travellers will face a confusing patchwork of rules after July 19 as some firms will still demand they wear face masks, it emerged last night.
Ministers have announced that face coverings will no be longer be required by law anywhere in England, including on public transport.
But Britain's largest shopping centre yesterday joined a growing list of companies – including many major airlines – warning they will still ask customers to wear them.
Amid the confusion, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he would not wear a face mask on a quiet train once restrictions are eased – even if there was a sign asking him to do so.
Jacinta Rowsell, manager of Westfield shopping centre in White City, west London, revealed yesterday that staff will still 'encourage' customers to wear masks after July 19.
'We are very focused on the fact that guests coming to the centre want