COVID-19: Face masks may not be needed indoors over summer, deputy chief medical officer suggests

Face masks may not be required indoors in public places over the summer, one of England’s deputy chief medical officers has suggested.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a roadmap for easing the COVID-19 lockdown which envisages all legal limits on people’s social contact ending by 21 June at the earliest.

Asked if face masks would still be mandated indoors in public spaces after this happens, Dr Jenny Harries told a Downing Street news conference that this might not be the case.

She added that they may be required in the winter months.

“One of the things we know, of course, is doing things outside is ever so much safer than doing things inside – ventilation, we know, is really important,” Dr Harries said.

“As we get into the autumn, when winter comes in and we spend more time inside, then again we may be looking at it.

“But it’s quite possible over summer months, as we did last year when we see rates drop, that we would not need to be wearing masks all that time.

“Summer period is generally, we think, a much safer period for us with less need for interventions, but I think that doesn’t rule it out as we go into winter periods again.”

Dr Harries also said that children should keep socially distancing from their grandparents until the government is “absolutely sure” about the impact of vaccines against the virus.

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“Having got so far down the line with this and now on the road map, very, very carefully coming out, I would encourage children not to go off yet, even if their grandparents have had their vaccinations,” she said.

“Not to go hugging them too much until we’re absolutely sure what the impact of that vaccine rollout has been.

“I’m sure it’s going to be positive but we just need to take a steady course through the road map.”

Dr Harries was appearing at the Number 10 briefing alongside Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Mr Williamson said there would be “no algorithms whatsoever” when it comes to determining grades for A-level and GCSE pupils this summer.

But he declined to give further details about the appeal mechanism that will be in place, ahead of a Commons statement tomorrow.

“As I said many times before, we are putting trust in teachers,” the education secretary said.

“That’s where the trust is going – there is going to be no algorithms whatsoever but there will be a very clear and robust appeals mechanism.

“But I’m afraid you’re going to have to forgive me – it is right that this is announced in the House of Commons and not to yourself, so sorry about that.

“But that will be happening tomorrow, so just a few more hours to wait.”

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