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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Over-60s cut social mixing because ‘selfish’ public shunning face masks

Older people are restricting social mixing because of concern about a “selfish” lack of face mask use by others around them, campaigners have warned. 

A survey of over-60s by Silver Voices, a campaign group, found that 84 per cent supported the return of mandatory masks in shops and on public transport. 

Most of the 1,000 people taking part in the poll said less than half of people were wearing face coverings on trains and buses in their area.  

Dennis Reed, the director of Silver Voices, urged ministers to introduce mandatory measures. He criticised Boris Johnson for recent public appearances in which he was seen without a mask in a hospital corridor and on a crowded train.

It comes as countries across Europe introduce tough Covid restrictions, with Austria imposing a nationwide lockdown and the Czech Republic and Slovakia ordering the unvaccinated to stay at home. 

Mr Reed said: “Older people look at what’s happening around the world and wonder why our Government has such a laissez-faire approach to this simple protective measure. Many of us are again restricting our social mixing and leisure activities because of the selfish attitudes on full display in busy supermarkets and on buses and trains.” 

Research published in the British Medical Journal last week found that face coverings can reduce incidences of infection by up to 53 per cent.

Scientists have been optimistic that Britain will avoid a European-style wave of cases because it dropped restrictions during the summer months and has had a high uptake of Covid vaccines.

On Monday Nadhim Zahawi, the former vaccines minister, said it was “absolutely the right thing” to open up the economy, while Sir John Bell, a government adviser, said “freedom day” had “given us longer-term protection”. 

Sir John said he was confident that it would be business as usual this Christmas, telling people to “order that turkey, because it’ll all be fine”.

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