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Face masks should remain by law, say majority in Nursing Standard Twitter poll

RCN and Unite unions agree that mask-wearing should continue

RCN and Unite unions agree with 74% of respondents to a Nursing Standard poll that mask-wearing should continue

Nearly three out of four nurses want mask-wearing to continue by law, according to a Nursing Standard Twitter poll.

The survey followed prime minister Boris Johnsons announcement that from 19 July all COVID-19 legal restrictions will be abolished in England. It means that wearing face masks in shops and on public transport will no longer be a legal requirement, instead the government recommends people wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces.

RCN and Unite unions agree with 74% of respondents to a Nursing Standard poll that mask-wearing should continue

Wearing face masks in shops and on public transport will no longer be a legal requirement in England from 19 July
Picture: iStock

Nearly three out of four nurses want mask-wearing to continue by law, according to a Nursing Standard Twitter poll.

The survey followed prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that from 19 July all COVID-19 legal restrictions will be abolished in England. It means that wearing face masks in shops and on public transport will no longer be a legal requirement, instead the government recommends people wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces.

The 20-hour Twitter poll asked: ‘From 19 July, it will no longer be a legal requirement in England to wear face masks in enclosed public settings such as shops and public transport. Do you think mask-wearing by law should continue in these settings for the foreseeable future?’

The question received 453 responses. Of these, 336 people (74%) said yes to mask-wearing continuing by law, 101 people (22%) said no, and 16 people (3.5%) said they did not know.

Since the prime minister’s announcement, the union Unite, which has 10,000 health service members, has called for face masks to remain compulsory in NHS settings.

RCN's Pat Cullen says the government has sent the wrong signal for political expediency

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe
Picture: Neil O’Connor

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: ‘We believe that social distancing and mask wearing in hospitals and other NHS settings should continue for the foreseeable future to protect the public and our members. We understand that a number of trusts in England will insist on mask wearing after next Monday – and this should be backed by the law.’

RCN acting general secretary Pat Cullen said nurses need higher-grade FFP3 face masks as COVID-19 remains a significant risk. She added: ‘Public mask-wearing is straightforward and well-established – the government will rue the day it sent the wrong signal for political expediency.’

Nursing Standard asked the Department of Health and Social Care what the rules regarding face masks for NHS settings in England will be after 19 July and a spokesperson said: ‘Face coverings have been needed in healthcare settings throughout the pandemic – as set out in the Infection Prevention and Control guidance – and this will not change as we cautiously proceed with step four of the road map.

“This will ensure patients are protected through the continued use of personal protective equipment, face coverings in enclosed or crowded areas, and maintaining safe distances in healthcare settings such as hospitals and GP surgeries.’

The Scottish Government has announced that from 19 July the country will move to level 0. However, first minister Nicola Sturgeon added that mandatory wearing of face coverings in indoor settings will remain.

The Welsh Government will make its announcement on 14 July and in Northern Ireland a further wave of coronavirus relaxations will come into effect on 26 July.


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