British Prime Minister Boris Johnson openly disagreed Wednesday with the country’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam in a coronavirus news briefing after he said Britons might wear masks “for years.”
“I think those kind of habits that we’ve learned from that clearly stop the spread of other respiratory viruses such as flu will perhaps persist for many years,” Van-Tam told reporters, making references to mask-wearing and hand sanitizer. “And that may be a good thing if they do.”
Johnson immediately stressed that he has “high hopes” for the effect a vaccine will have and said the country would want to get back to life “pretty much as close to normal.”
Van-Tam then clarified he didn’t mean the government would continue to recommend masks and social distancing “forever and a day” but rather that some people may change their personal habits after the pandemic is over.
He gave the example of some Asian countries where people frequently wore face masks on a regular basis for years before the pandemic.
“I hope we will get back to a much more normal world,” he added.
More than 60,000 Britons have died of the virus as of this week, according to the Guardian.