Covid-19: Rules on face masks could be changed next month – health secretary

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Covid-19: Rules on face masks could be changed next month - health secretary
Covid-19: Rules on face masks could be changed next month - health secretary

Rapid progress with the vaccine rollout means people aged 35 and over will get their Covid-19 vaccines ‘pretty soon’, according to the Health Secretary

Over-35s will be invited to receive their first Covid vaccine dose “pretty soon” and rules on mask-wearing may change as soon as next month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today.

The UK’s largest ever vaccine programme is currently prioritising offering first doses to those over the age of 40, however rapid progress means the scheme will soon move onto people in their 30s, Mr Hancock told Sky News.

It means people aged between 35 and 39 could receive the call-up for their first jab within the next fortnight.

“We’ve seen people behaving brilliantly during the pandemic… and that’s one of the reasons that we’re in the position that we are, alongside of course the vaccine rollout,” Mr Hancock said.

People in their 30s in England set to get Covid vaccine in mid-May as those 40 or above now eligible for jab

The government has set an official target to offer a first dose of the vaccine to all adults by the end of July, though fast progress with Britain’s jab scheme means ministers will likely beat that date.

More than two-thirds of adults in the UK have already received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with around 53.3m doses administered in total.

Ministers are also considering a relaxation of mask-wearing rules alongside a wider easing of lockdown restrictions set for 21 June, the Health Secretary added.

It could mean face coverings may no longer be required in a range of settings such as shops and on public transport, as they have been since last summer.

Mr Hancock said official rules around coronavirus will soon change to emphasise people’s “personal responsibility”, and to urge them to exercise “common sense according to their circumstances”.

“The approach we’re going to be taking from Monday is more based on personal responsibility,” Mr Hancock said. “It’s the right moment to set out very precisely and very clearly these risks, and then saying to people: ‘Let’s take a cautious common sense approach’”.

Lockdown roadmap: Boris Johnson confirms end of social distancing as he lifts 14-month-long Covid restrictions

Pubs and restaurants will reopen for indoor drinking and dining from next Monday under the Prime Minister’s roadmap for leaving lockdown, while cinemas, hotels and B&Bs will welcome customers for the first time in months.

Friends and families across the country will also be able to hug once more from 17 May, in what Boris Johnson has hailed as “the single biggest step on our roadmap” out of lockdown.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, the Health Secretary pointed to a dramatic fall in hospitalisations and deaths from coronavirus for the more “liberal” approach to coronavirus rules.

It comes after England, Scotland and Northern Ireland recorded zero Covid-related deaths yesterday for the first time since last summer, while four fatalities were reported in Wales.

The number of daily Covid cases across the UK also fell to 2,357 yesterday, down from a peak of 68,053 on 8 January.

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