Boris Johnson urged to 'hold firm' on July 19 unlocking as gov says masks should still be worn indoors despite easing

BORIS Johnson is being urged by Tory MPs to "hold firm" with plans to bin most Covid restrictions next week – in the face of warnings from gloomy scientists.

But lockdown-hating backbenchers are increasingly afraid Freedom Day is being watered down by strict guidance to keep wearing masks after July 19.


 

The PM will use a 5pm press conference to announce whether he is ploughing ahead with the end of his roadmap next Monday.

He is expected to confirm that legal restrictions on mask-wearing, gatherings and social distancing will all be scrapped.

Labour has accused the Government of "recklessness" because daily infections are soaring, while hospitalisations are creeping up.

Yet senior Tories are telling the PM not to buckle and are holding his feet to the fire ahead of tonight's decision.

Sir Graham Brady, chair of the powerful 1922 committee of Conservative MPs, told LBC: "We need to hear that the Prime Minister is going to hold firm, that we are going to move ahead and that we are going to see this overdue shift to trusting people – letting people make decisions for themselves."

He vented frustration that Brits will be strongly encouraged to keep wearing masks inside beyond Freedom Day.

Although the legal compulsion to use face coverings will go, Health Minister Ed Argar confirmed today that fresh guidance will be issued advising people to mask up in crowded places.

Sir Graham hit back: "The advice and evidence that I've heard is that there's very little reason to wear face masks outside of a clinical setting.

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"The loose, ill-fitting ones that most people wear don't make much difference. So personally I would be inclined not to wear face masks."

Accusing the Government of shifting the goalposts on masks, Tory MP Steve Baker added: "It’s not fair snatching away people’s hope, it’s psychologically, profoundly destructive."

Nervtag boffin Prof Peter Openshaw said wearing masks was crucial to slashing transmissions.

He told BBC Radio 4: "I really don't see why people are reluctant to wear face coverings, it is quite clear that they do greatly reduce transmission.

"Vaccines are fantastic but you have to give them time to work and in the meantime keeping up all those measures which we have learned to reduce the transmission is to me really vital."

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