Reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement, Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health said:
“The Prime Minister has given us an early indication of his direction of travel, announcing the intended move away from legal restrictions that limit numbers of people meeting, how close we can be to other people from outside our households, and that end the requirement for us to wear face coverings.
“I echo Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer’s clarification and confirmation that he will however continue wearing a mask, particularly at this point where the epidemic is clearly significant and rising.”
Professor Whitty cited three situations during the Downing Street press conference in which he would continue wearing a mask:
- In any situation which is indoors and crowded, or indoors within close proximity to other people. And that is because masks help protect other people.
- If required to do so by any competent authority
- If someone else were uncomfortable if he were not to wear a mask, then as a point of common courtesy, Prof Whitty would wear a mask
“Positive cases are rising across the UK and in Devon driven by the much more contagious Delta variant,” said Steve Brown.
“Thankfully it is not yet reflected in the rate of hospital admissions or in COVID-19-related deaths, but those numbers are expected to rise, as positive cases rise.
“So while the restrictions are lifting, and there becomes greater responsibility on us to make our own decisions, the public health advice remains clear.
“Coronavirus is an airborne virus. It spreads most easily when people are in close proximity and when indoors in poorly ventilated spaces. The wearing of face coverings and maintaining social distance may not be legal requirements from the 19 July, but as the Prime Minister talked of ‘balancing risk’, I encourage people to not put themselves at unnecessary risk.
“Controlling the continued spread of the virus is down to us. We do that by being careful, and continuing to take precautions that protect ourselves and others.
“Please continue choosing to take steps that minimise risk to ourselves and to others, even when that choice is ours to make.”