Vast majority of adults still wearing masks after ‘Freedom Day’, research shows

Passengers wearing face masks at Waterloo station in London (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)
15:20pm, Fri 30 Jul 2021
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The vast majority of adults are continuing to wear face coverings when out and about, despite no longer being legally required to do so in certain settings, figures suggest.

Some 95% of people in Britain said they wore face coverings when outside their home in the past week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.

And 89% of adults felt that wearing face coverings to help stop the spread of Covid-19 is either very important or important.

The findings are similar to those from the previous week’s survey, conducted before most legal restrictions in England were eased on July 19.

Face coverings are now no longer mandatory in shops and on most public transport in England, but the Government has said it “expects and recommends” that people continue to do so in crowded areas.

The one-metre-plus rule on social distancing has also ended.

The ONS analysed responses from 3,784 people aged 16 and over who were surveyed between July 21 and 25 as part of its Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

They were asked about their actions over the past week, which includes a number of days before the July 19 reopening.

It also found that 69% of respondents said they saw everyone or almost everyone wearing face coverings while shopping in the last seven days.

Those saying they always or often maintained social distance fell slightly, from 63% last week to 61%.

Some 88% of respondents said they feel socially distancing from people not in their household is important or very important – similar to the previous week (89%).

Asked how they will behave after the end of restrictions across Britain, 79% said they will continue to wear a face covering in shops, 75% said they will do so on public transport and 51% said they will socially distance from people they do not live with.

A third (33%) of adults said they felt it will take more than a year for life to return to normal, similar to last week (32%) and the highest this has been since early November.

Tim Vizard, ONS principal research officer, said: “Interestingly, despite the lifting of legal restrictions in England on 19 July, people continue to feel strongly that measures like wearing face coverings and hand washing are important.”

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