Three-quarters of Britons are likely to continue wearing face coverings in shops and while using public transport even when they are no longer compulsory, polling has found. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that all legal restrictions on wearing masks will be lifted as of July 19 in England, instead shifting the emphasis to personal responsibility.
According to a survey by Ipsos Mori, 76% think it is likely that they will put a face covering on when going into shops after restrictions have been eased, while 74% said the same when it came to taking public transport. A majority feel they are likely to wear them on planes (64%), in theatres and cinemas (60%), in their place of work (59%) and in pubs and restaurants (55%) even when no longer legally compelled to do so.
It comes after London Mayor Sadiq Khan asked Transport for London to continue to make mask wearing a condition of carriage for using the capital’s transport network, meaning people could be blocked from getting on tubes and buses without a face covering on. Those surveyed were less enthusiastic about wearing face masks in other settings after measures are lifted.
The prospect of attending outdoor sports and music events, like football matches and festivals, with a face mask on divided those polled, with 48% recording that they were likely to put one on. A third said they were likely to go without.
A quarter of interviewees thought they would wear masks inside the homes of friends and family once restrictions are abolished. The survey published on Wednesday found that nearly three in four people (73%) think wearing masks in places such as shops and public transport is very important for stopping the spread of coronavirus.
A representative sample of 1,025 British adults aged 16 to 75 were interviewed online on July 9. Out of those polled, 43% regarded the wearing of face coverings to be essential up from 37% this time last year. Older Britons are most likely to view face masks as essential in preventing the spread of the virus, with more than half (54%) of 55 to 75s, 42% of 35 to 54s and a third of 18 to 34s saying the same.
Kelly Beaver, managing director of public affairs at Ipsos Mori, said: While most Britons appear likely to continue wearing face masks beyond July 19, it is clear not all situations will inspire a majority to keep their mouths and noses covered. With seven in 10 unlikely to wear face masks inside the homes of friends and family, people will need to ensure they open windows and ensure air circulation while hosting others to limit the spread of the virus as we continue into the next stages of our fight against Covid-19.