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Majority plan to continue wearing face masks, ONS says

·2-min read

Two-thirds of adults in Great Britain said they still plan to cover their faces in shops, following the lifting of most coronavirus legal restrictions in England from July 19, according to new data.

The same percentage – 64% – plan to wear masks on public transport, while 60% plan to avoid crowded places, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Statistics from the ONS’s weekly Opinions and Lifestyle Survey also found nine out of 10 adults believe continuing to wear face coverings is important for slowing the spread of Covid-19, whilst 88% said social distancing from those not in their household remained key.

More than half who were surveyed between July 7 and 11 said they were worried about plans to remove legal restrictions, which come into force today. One fifth said they were “very worried”.

There was also a slight uptick in the number of people who believe normal life is a year or more away – at 28%. This compared with 25% who said the same in the survey a week earlier, although it was down from a peak of 41% last September.

People wearing masks
The majority of the public said they will continue covering faces when shopping (Dominic Lipinski / PA)

Breaking down the data by age groups, respondents between 16 and 29 years old were the least likely to continue with face coverings – although more than half said they still would.

The percentage of people likely to wear masks in shops increases with age, with 74% of those aged 70 and over planning to do so.

On public transport, 69% of those aged 70 and over said they plan to wear face coverings, compared with 70% aged 50 to 69.

Almost half of adults plan to maintain social distancing around others they do not live with. Younger generations are less likely to socially distance, with just 31% planning to, whilst those aged 50 to 69 are most likely, with 59%.

Nearly one in three working adults plan to work from home, despite recommendations for home working ending, the survey also found.

Network Rail said mask-wearing at its stations such as London Waterloo, Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly was “around 75%” on Monday, down from “almost universal wearing” before the rule was lifted.

Transport for London, which has maintained the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings, said compliance was approximately 85% on Monday, which is “roughly in line” with the previous level.

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