Government insiders have suggested wearing face masks in public places could stay in place until a vaccine is found – which may not be until next year.
One Cabinet source told the Mirror: “We are not doing this with a timeline in mind. This is part of the new normal.
“Until we get a vaccine we are going to have to be doing a lot of these things.
“We are not going to be doing this for a few weeks and then giving up.
“It’s part of a wider package of measures, such a social distancing.”
Britons are facing a ‘new normal’ as the coronavirus lockdown is eased
Another Government source added: “I don’t think anybody can know how long it will be but you have to assume we’ll be wearing masks for a while.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged shopkeepers to inform police of any rule breakers, and said shops can refuse people entry if they fail to wear mask.
He told the Commons: “The liability for wearing a face covering lies with the individual.
“Should an individual without an exemption refuse to wear a face covering, a shop can refuse them entry and can call the police if people refuse to comply.
“The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue a fine.”
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Coronavirus map: 20 areas of interest in England
7.43am update: Rate of infection dropped significantly in May
The rate of coronavirus infection in England dropped significantly in May, a new study has found.
The research, from Imperial College London found that the overall reproduction (R) number of was 0.57 – lower than previously thought.
The R number equates to an average of 13 positive cases for every 10,000 people.
According to the study the rate of infection throughout the country was halving every eight to nine days during May.
For the study, researchers tested more than 120,000 volunteers aged over five across the country for COVID-19.
About 69% of those who tested positive reported no symptoms on the day of the test or the previous week, though they may have developed symptoms later.