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The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told Sky News the Government is not ruling out changing the rules around face masks.
- Where does that leave the mask situation, then?
MATT HANCOCK: Well, we're also set out the details in terms of masks. We are changing the rules in schools in terms of the use of masks because we know that schools-- within school, wearing a mask in lessons, for instance, it means that the lessons are-- it's harder to communicate. It's harder to teach.
But in general settings, we're keeping the rules on masks as they are for this step outside of schools. You know, mask wearing is one of those things that the cost of it to your personal, sort of going about your normal life, is really, really small. We know that they are of benefit. That's one of the things we've learned, you know, one of the things that scientists have-- have-- have developed the science on and learned during the pandemic. And so they'll-- those rules have be staying the same, except for within school settings.
- So-- so the same up until-- so there's a possibility, at least, that the mask rule, the mask mandate, if you like, could-- could go in June. You haven't ruled it out.
MATT HANCOCK: Well, when it comes to-- we haven't ruled that out when it comes to the-- where we end up on social distancing rules and anything to do with certification, domestically, for instance, for large events, whether that goes ahead. That will all be set out ahead of step 4. On Monday, we're taking step 3. And then step 4, as you know, we've said will happen not before the 21st of June.
And between now and then, we'll monitor the data and those four tests that the chief medical officer set out so clearly yesterday.
- OK. You mentioned certification. Where are we with that? Because you say that maybe on the domestic front, that's-- that's going to come into play from June. But on an international travel front, that's going to come into play from next Monday. Is the app-- it was meant to be going on through the NHS app. Is that going to be up and running by next Monday?
MATT HANCOCK: Yes, the-- the certification, being able to show that you've had a jab, is going to be necessary for people to be able to travel. So we want to make sure people can get access to that proof, not least to show governments of other countries that-- that you've had the jab if they require that in order to arrive. Israel is a good example. They've said that they'll want proof of you having had two jabs for you to go to-- to Israel, as and when they open up.
They're on the green list, of course. So we will make sure that you can get access to that to prove that point. That is different to the question of whether we require people to be certified as COVID secure before doing things domestically. That is something that Michael Gove is working on. And we're looking at these pilots that are running.
You saw that, you know, there was an audience at the Crucible for the snooker finals. The Brits are going ahead. We're testing different ways that this might work for large events, and then we'll be following the science on that. But really, the focus, you know, for the time being on this certification question is making sure that people can travel internationally and show that they've had the jab if that's what another country requires.
- I'm sure your people at your end are telling you that we're almost out of time. I just want to very quickly ask you about the importance of vaccination. When are we going to move down to the 35-plus age group?
MATT HANCOCK: Yeah, pretty soon, pretty soon. Yeah, we've gone down to the all 40s and above in the last couple of weeks. As you have seen, the numbers of vaccines is going gangbusters, more than 600,000 on Saturday, again. And the number of first vaccinations is actually rising at the moment, and we're getting through all those critical second vaccinations.
Really important, if you've got your second jab, then come forward at the time that you're asked to come forward. People-- everybody's doing it. It's absolutely fantastic to see the proportion of people-- almost everybody, unless they've got some complicated logistical issue or-- it's coming forward for their second jab. It's so important. And we'll let you know as soon as we are able to take that next step to the under 40s.