Britons divided over face mask issue: ‘The mildest of insignificant burdens to bear’

Covid-19: Sir Patrick Vallance warns 'virus hasn't gone away'

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In a poll that ran from 9am on Tuesday, April 5, to 10am on Wednesday, April 6, asked: “Should the UK bring back face masks after new warning?” A total of 8,644 people voted and hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their views on face masks.

Overall, voters were largely split, with 51 percent (4,398 people) voting “no”, the UK should not bring back face masks, while 49 percent (4,218 people) said “yes”, the UK should bring back face masks.  

A further 28 people answered that they did not know either way.

 The WHO has warned of a new Covid variant XE, believed to be 10 percent more transmissible than Omicron subvariant BA.2.

 Although there is currently only a small number of confirmed cases of XE in the UK, the WHO said it expects this to eventually become the dominant strain globally.

When reporting its initial findings the WHO said: “The XE recombinant was first detected in the UK on January 19 and less than 600 sequences have been reported and confirmed since. 

“Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation.”

According to UK Government data, 1,174 people have died within 28 days of a positive test in the last seven days – an increase of 11.7 percent from the previous week.

In the same period, 425,303 people have tested positive for COVID-19, though with free testing scrapped, the true figure is expected to be much higher.

Now, as this new variant spreads there are fewer public health measures such as mandatory face masks. 

Commenting on the issue, an Express reader under the username ColinKnight said: “No they should not be brought back. At least not for widespread public use, that is in any way regarded or declared as mandatory.”

Username Toffiffee wrote: “No, otherwise we might as well say we’re going to be wearing masks forever.”

While username RE Vet said: “I refuse to wear one, they make no difference. If people want to voluntarily I don’t have an issue with that but I will not be forced to wear a mask ever again.”

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Some felt wearing a face mask was the correct decision to protect themselves. 

Username ken184 said: “Whilst Covid is rampant at the moment I reserve the right to wear a mask.” 

Username cornwall123 said: “I can’t see the big fuss about wearing them. If they stop me from getting Covid, flu or even a cold, great.” 

Others thought that the UK had made the wrong decision by removing face mask mandates.

Username Seeyerdownthepub said: “I hate wearing a mask. However, I acknowledge that wearing a mask whilst in a crowded indoor space, such as a few minutes whilst shopping, is the mildest of insignificant burdens to bear.”

And username Simo69 said: “They should never have stopped them in the first place. Covid is not going anywhere. Yes, open back up but keep masks in place.” 

Username London69 said: “Yes masks should return, they should never have been scrapped. This isn’t the flu and cold, it’s more serious and should be taken that way.”

Some commented that they felt the decision to wear a face mask was a personal choice.

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Username Mr. AlwaysRight said:” It should be an individual choice whether to wear or not to wear a mask.”

Username rogerthedog said: “Let those who wish to wear them, wear them.”

And username Oldn had enough wrote: “If you want to wear one, wear one – if you don’t, don’t.”

In England and Northern Ireland, face masks are not necessary for most public spaces but Wales and Scotland face coverings are still required in some indoor settings.

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