Call for face masks to be mandatory beyond 19 July

The Green Party have responded to the Government’s ‘Freedom Day’ plans, urging the Prime Minister to reconsider the scrapping of mandatory face masks on 19 July.

A woman wearing a clinical face mask
Emma Love

The Green Party has called for the wearing of face masks on public transport and in shops to remain mandatory beyond 19 July.

Reacting to plans to discard the legal enforcement of the protective measure, the Greens have called the government out as wholly irresponsible and divisive.

A petition launched today will give the public the opportunity to demonstrate their support for the continuation of mandatory mask wearing.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to end almost all Coronavirus restrictions on 19 July, including face mask requirements.

Despite the national surge in Covid-19 cases, owing to the highly transmissible Delta variant, Johnson maintained that the success of the UK’s vaccination programme allowed for the continued relaxation of restrictions.

Caroline Russell, Green Party spokesperson for transport and London Assembly Member, said: “With Covid case rates rising so worryingly fast, it is reckless of the government to remove the instruction to wear a mask in crowded, enclosed environments like shops and on public transport, where risk of transmission is high. 

“For anyone with compromised immunity, ‘Freedom Day’ feels like anything but that. We’ve all got used to protecting each other by wearing face coverings when travelling by bus or by train or going into shops and polling shows most people are happy to continue to do this.

“It’s wrong to put shop and transport workers, fellow passengers and people shopping at unnecessary risk of catching this terrible virus, when it is so simple to put on a mask.“

Peter Cranie, Green Party health spokesperson, said: “Wearing masks is about following the science and recognising that this crisis isn’t yet over. 

“The vaccination programme is an incredible feat by the NHS and has managed to reduce the chance of becoming seriously ill from Covid for millions of people. 

“But vaccines alone will not stop Covid from spreading and there are still serious risks associated with the virus, even for those that are double vaccinated. You only have to look at the numbers to see that. 

"But mask wearing is also about keeping alive the incredible spirit that’s been shown during the pandemic, that we want to look after one another and that we’re still in this together. 

“Masks have become a symbol of our efforts against Covid - wearing them helps lots of us regulate our behaviour so that we’re not putting ourselves or other people at unnecessary risk. 

“That is why the government should be providing clear, science-led guidance on continuing to wear masks on public transport and in public spaces.”