It makes “no sense not to insist on the wearing of masks”, a leading academic has said.
Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said people should be able to enjoy the summer after coronavirus restrictions are lifted but “it doesn’t mean we have to open the door wide open”.
His comments came as Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he will “probably” wear a mask on the London Underground after the legal requirement ends.And leading medics said masks may still be needed in hospitals, particularly in crowded environments such as A&E.
The legal requirement to wear face masks will be lifted in England on so-called Freedom Day – expected on July 19 – although guidance will suggest people might still choose to do so in crowded places.
Sir Paul told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s not unreasonable for the Government to open the country up more, given the successful vaccine rollout. But it’s not sensible to open up so much so fast when the level of infections is rising so quickly.
“This decision is informed by science but it’s a political decision. And some factors are important, like the economy, but some of this could be achieved by keeping some of the checks in place.
“It makes no sense not to insist on the wearing of masks. We need sensible, well thought-out, good plans.
“Of course we have to make the most of the summer but it doesn’t mean we have to open the door wide open.”
And Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: “Personally, I use the Tube a lot in London, and I would probably wear a mask in that context, on the Tube, on public transport.
“That’s a personal view, it’s not something I would mandate, or necessarily dictate to other people.”
Meanwhile, Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said face masks may still be needed in A&E departments to “keep people safe”.
“So, we haven’t seen what the plans are for hospitals, but the likelihood is that we will want to make it as safe as possible for everybody,” she told Times Radio.