Priti Patel does NOT rule out wearing masks after July 19 and says she will wait until 'we are in the clear'

PRITI Patel today dampened hopes that masks can be binned on July 19 – vowing only to ditch hers "when we are in the clear".

The Home Secretary said she would "love to take the mask off" but refused to rule out Government guidance requiring coverings after Freedom Day next month. 

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She struck a significantly less bullish tone than Cabinet colleague George Eustice, who this month declared he would rip off his mask when all legal restrictions are lifted.

The Sun revealed last week that ministers were mulling keeping mandatory masks in some enclosed settings like public transport.

And this morning Ms Patel was reluctant to nail her colours to the mast, telling Times Radio: "Look, I would love to, you know, take the mask off, but at the right time. I will do that when we are in the clear."

Grilled if this could be after July 19, she deflected: "The point is we are living with coronavirus and, you know, many of us have been saying this across government – probably for the last 12 months actually – we are living with this virus."

New Health Secretary Sajid Javid last night forged a path to freedom, insisting July 19 will be the "end of the line" for lockdown.

The ex-Chancellor – who replaced shamed Matt Hancock – told MPs: "The restrictions on our freedoms – they must come to an end.

"We owe it to the British people who have sacrificed so much to restore their freedoms as quickly as we possibly can – and not to wait a moment longer than we need to."


Ms Patel was less strident and said she was "not going to speculate" about the chances of hitting the July 19 "terminus point".

Boris Johnson – who has refused to rule out continued mask-wearing – hoped life will revert to near normality next month.

He said: "With every day that goes by it's clearer to me and all our scientific advisers that we're very likely to be in a position on July 19 to say that really is the terminus – and we can go back to life as it was before Covid as far as possible."

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