'We shouldn't have stopped': Reaction to reintroduction of face masks

Commuters wearing face masks travelling on buses in Norwich, in line with government guidelines for

Face masks will be compulsory in shops and on public transport as of next week. - Credit: Archant

‘I don’t think we should have ever stopped’, was the overwhelming reaction to Boris Johnson’s announcement to once again make face masks mandatory in shops and on public transport.

In a press conference on Saturday, the prime minister told the country how the government planned to try and keep a lid on the new coronavirus variant Omicron, which has now been detected in the UK. 

Face masks will have to be worn in shops and on public transport as of next week – but hospitality will be exempt - Omicron contacts will also have to self-isolate and new arrivals will have to quarantine until they test negative for coronavirus. 

The news saw hundreds of readers react on our Facebook page and many said they had not stopped wearing masks, despite restrictions lifting in July. 

One person wrote: “I've never stopped wearing my masks. I'm double vaccinated and booster booked. I have double vaccinated friends who've been quite ill from Covid; they say they are grateful to have had the vaccine as would have been hospitalised otherwise” 

“It should have not been stopped. I was on the train first time since lockdown and was surprised how many people were not wearing a mask,” commented another. 

Another woman wrote: “Totally agree, people are becoming complacent.” 

"Shouldn't have stopped it in the first place, it just caused confusion and gave people a false sense of security," another added.

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Sanders Coaches, a Norfolk-based travel company, responded after the government’s announcement. On Twitter, a spokesman wrote: “As you may have seen the Prime Minister announced new Covid measures, including the return of face masks in shops and on public transport.  

“We are unsure as yet when this new rule is due to start but we will keep you all informed as and when we find out more information.” 

The Bishop of Norwich the Rt Rev Graham Usher tweeted: "Following the Prime Minister's announcement, local church communities in @DioceseNorwich will be working out how we remain safe. I want to actively encourage us to: - wear a face mask at church to keep others safe - keep social distancing, including at social events.

"The news about the #OmicronVariant surely must reinforce the urgent need for wealthy nations to actively and wholeheartedly fund vaccination programmes in the economically poorest nations. We are a global family. Until the vast majority are vaccinated no one is safe."

But not everyone shared the same view following the news.

Many expressed their confusion about the decision to reintroduce masks in shops and transport – but not in packed nightclubs.  

A reader wrote: “Masks in retail settings and on public transport, but nothing for pubs, clubs and schools where viruses are transmitted wholesale?” 

Boris Johnson said these “temporary and precautionary" measures will be reviewed in three weeks, alongside a "boost" to the booster campaign. 

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