Four in 10 Brits back permanent face mask rules - even after pandemic is over

Four in 10 Brits back having permanent face mask rules even after the pandemic is over, while the vast majority believe restrictions should stay in place for the time being.

Research by Ipsos MORI found seven in 10 people wanted face mask rules to continue for a month after July 19 - the current scheduled date for the end of mandatory mask requirements and most other restrictions in England.

Slightly fewer people (64%) want to see mask rules on public transport and in shops stay in place until the pandemic is under control worldwide, which may still be years away.

The figure drops to four in 10 when asked if people want the rules to stay forever.


Conservative MP Simon Clarke called the idea of keeping masks forever "total lunacy" in response to the study.

The government has been criticised for its decision to include an end to mask wearing rules when England enters step four.

Watch: COVID-19: Trains, planes and buses can have their own face mask rules after 19 July, transport secretary says

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the Council for the British Medical Association said: "We know that masks are effective in stopping the spread, so it is nonsensical and dangerous for the Government to abandon compulsory mask-wearing in indoor public settings, such as public transport, on July 19."

Labour has also called for mask-wearing in shops and public transport to be mandatory for the time being.

Sir Keir Starmer pointed out at PMQs on Wednesday there are many people with weakened immune systems who will feel scared about going on public transport if everyone isn't wearing a mask.

A man wearing a facemask on an underground tube train in central London, during the easing of lockdown restrictions in England. Picture date: Sunday July 4, 2021.
Most people support wearing masks on public transport after 19 July. (PA)

He said: "We should open up in a controlled way, keeping baseline protections such as masks on public transport, improving ventilation, making sure the Track and Trace system remains effective, and ensuring proper payments for self-isolation."

The science around how effective masks are at reducing infection is still debated, although it is generally agreed wearing a face-covering does cut cases in some way.

In minutes released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recently, they said they had medium confidence that using effective face-coverings reduced infections by between 6-15% and as high as 45%.

The study also found around seven in 10 Brits believed quarantine rules for people returning from a foreign holiday should stay in place for a month after July 19 and a third would be happy for the rule to be permanent. 

Almost half of the respondents said they would support vaccine passports becoming a necessity for foreign travel forever.

Two-thirds of Brits supported social distancing rules staying in place for a month after 19 July and over a third said they wanted social distancing forever.