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British people will be given back their rights to socialise freely at the end of the government-enforced coronavirus lockdown on the 21st of June, but some rules including the mandated wearing of masks will likely remain with no end in sight, reports claim.

British government minister Dominic Raab revealed the government’s long-anticipated end of lockdown — set for “no earlier” than June 21st back in February and apparently still running to schedule — will be tempered by some “safeguards” remaining in place, with establishment-friendly newspapers backing the government’s position underlining the development.

Remarking that the government wanted to “get life back as close as possible to normal”, Raab insisted that no decisions had been made, but when pressed by BBC interviewer Andrew Marr conceded “maybe there will be something around masks” when the UK ‘unlocks’ in June.

The retention of the masking rule for the public while indoors is being seen by the government as a cost for scrapping the ‘one meter plus’ rule for venues, which as it is presently constituted would make it near impossible for many businesses like pubs and bars to return to profitability. The Daily Telegraph reports pubs, for instance, would be able to return to indoor drinking without limits on the numbers of patrons in return for continued mask-wearing and the presence of glass screens.

London’s The Times reports the change in rules on June 21st means venues in the UK will be able to re-open at full capacity for the first time in nearly a year and a half. An example of how the new rules would work — what Dominic Raab described as “back as close as possible to normal” — would include theatres being able to open at full capacity but audiences having to wear masks throughout performances.

The suggestion that the UK government is intending to go long on masks — a distinct departure from its original position that mask-wearing was not effective at the start of Coronavirus — while ending other lockdown requirements comes days after the news the government was to allow Britons to hug each other again from June 21st. Stating the government plan that the adult population would have been vaccinated by late June, it was said that “by this point people would be safe to hug, and that it then comes down to a matter of individual judgment”.

Masks are likely to not be the only part of coronavirus culture to linger on in the United Kingdom after lockdown has officially ended. As reported last week, UK local governments are in the process of hiring ‘Covid marshalls’ — the traffic wardens of the pandemic world — with some contracts reportedly lasting until 2023.

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