Plan B rules are being scrapped from January 26, meaning working from home rules will end and face masks will no longer be mandatory in shops, theatres, public transport and classrooms for children.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said people should make their own “personal judgement” about wearing masks when the rules change.
“Will I be wearing a face mask? Yeah, I think I probably would be in a week’s time,” he told BBC Breakfast.
Javid isn’t the only person who wants to continue wearing a mask.
It looks like the government are considering removing public health measures in a political move to bolster support for Boris Johnson🚨
I’ll still wear a mask in shops and public transport.
Will you? RT if so💙
— Dr Julia Grace Patterson💙 (@JujuliaGrace) January 17, 2022
Not convinced you should still be wearing one? Keep reading. Here are five undeniable benefits for you and others.
1. It protects others while Omicron rates are still high
Omicron cases are falling in the UK but they’re still relatively high. Wearing a mask is still one of the best ways you can protect other people. In fact, a study by Monash University in Australia and the University of Edinburgh found that mask-wearing was associated with a 53% reduction in the incidence of Covid (although the researchers couldn’t pinpoint a causal link due to the study’s limit, it’s a very good sign).
Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, previously told HuffPost UK: “Masks dramatically reduce transmission, though they don’t stop it entirely.”
2. It protects you
As well as protecting other people, multiple studies suggest face coverings also offer some protection to the wearer. Data from the Office for National Statistics suggests people who don’t wear face coverings in confined spaces are one and a half times more likely to test positive for coronavirus than those who use a mask.
Professor Greenhalgh explained that wearing a well-fitting mask indoors “definitely protects other people from one’s own germs”.
“It would also be expected to protect the wearer to some extent (for example by reducing the amount of virus that you breathe in, thereby producing an asymptomatic or mild illness rather than a severe one),” she said.
3. It reduces fear for vulnerable people
Wearing a mask will help to protect those with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to Covid. Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people have previously told HuffPost how the reduction of Covid rules means they’re forced to live in fear. Wearing a mask might be a small sacrifice for you, but it’ll make a big difference to someone else.
My wife and I will continue to wear a #mask to protect not only ourselves but also others, especially those who are #CEV#immunocompromised have #autoimmune conditions and are still vulnerable to contracting #COVID19. #cancer#vasculitis#lupus#scleroderma#raynauds#sjogrenspic.twitter.com/56zEK7AKaf
— John@Vasculitis UK 💙 (@vascuk) January 20, 2022
For my mum who is critically extremely vulnerable and for all those like her being thrown to the wolves by this government, I will continue to wear a mask and do whatever I can to protect you #Masks#GTTO#WearAMask#CEV#immunocompromised#COVID19
— Kate (@SpudGlover) January 19, 2022
4. It’ll help in places with poor ventilation
Places like public transport, shops and crowded venues often have poor ventilation, especially in winter when windows usually aren’t open.
Experts previously told HuffPost UK you should prioritise wearing a mask in indoor spaces with poor air flow, crowded spaces, and where you’ll be spending long periods of time. This might include:
Where people may be more vulnerable
Cinemas and theatres
Classrooms and offices
Restaurants and pubs
Wearing a face covering will reduce transmission in these spaces.
5. It can combat anxiety
One of the best feelings about wearing a mask is feeling safe. Face coverings can make you feel comfortable as you know you’re protecting yourself and others. And they’re perfect for making your face feel warm in the winter!
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.