COVID-19: Rules on face masks could be changed next month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock says

The government could change the rules around mask wearing next month, the health secretary has told Sky News.

Matt Hancock said ministers “haven’t ruled that out” as part of step four of England’s roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions on 21 June, but urged people to exercise “personal responsibility”.

The wearing of face coverings in a range of settings, including in shops and on public transport, has been required since last summer.

Mr Hancock also said those aged 35 and over will be offered their coronavirus vaccine “pretty soon”, with the rollout currently inoculating everyone over the age of 40.

The health secretary was speaking after Boris Johnson confirmed step three of lockdown easing will go ahead next Monday.

This will see pubs and restaurants reopen indoors and people allowed to mix indoors as two households or under the rule of six.

People will also have the choice whether to socially distance with close family and friends they are meeting up with.

But they are being urged to remain cautious about the risks of hugging.

Asked about this, Mr Hancock said ministers would publish guidance on close personal conduct and that “trusting people’s personal responsibility is the right way to go”.

“It depends on people’s circumstances,” he said with regards to hugging.

“We will be changing the rules to be far more about people taking personal responsibility, exercising common sense according to their circumstances.

“We will set out really clearly the risks. People understand the risks – we know that – and we’ll make that very, very plain and then people can exercise their own personal responsibility.”

He added: “Grandparents, sometimes for the first time in over a year, will be able to be close to their grandchildren, but taking into account the individual risk of catching this disease which differs according to circumstances.”

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