‘People’s behaviour will make a difference to Covid-19 cases’ as Plan B scrapped

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People’s behaviour will make a difference to declining or rising coronavirus cases, the chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Dr Susan Hopkins told a press conference in Downing Street that people mixing and socialising will “need to do that carefully and within the guidelines”.

The Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that mandatory face masks will no longer be required across England from next week, while advice for people to work from home will be dropped immediately. 

Dr Hopkins told the press conference: “I think what we’ve seen is that case numbers have declined.

Coronavirus – Wed Jan 19, 2022
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the UK Health Security Agency, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid during a media briefing in Downing Street (Henry Nicholls/PA)

“It’s people’s behaviour that is going to make the difference over the next four weeks, on whether those case numbers continue to decline, stay the same, or rise.

“Clearly when you’re working from home you have less social contact, but we’re already seeing some people start to go back into the office and mix and socialise more.

“They need to do that carefully and within the guidelines, taking care particularly when they’re on public transport, in indoor spaces and crowded places to wear face coverings; to test regularly if they’re going back out and meeting people, particularly those who are more vulnerable; and finally to ensure that they’ve taken up that vaccination offer.”

Dr Hopkins added that “the biggest response that we all have as individuals is to take our personal behaviour seriously and that really is driving towards vaccination uptake, as well as remembering to wear our face coverings when you’re in closed spaces with people that you don’t know”.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged the Government to “rethink its plan” after it was announced face coverings would no longer be mandatory.

He posted on Twitter that “Covid-19 still poses a significant threat” and “wearing a face covering is one of the most effective things we can do to stop the spread”.

Mr Khan added that face coverings will still remain compulsory on Transport for London services, and said: “The Government must rethink its plans and keep legislation in place to make face coverings compulsory.