COMPULSORY masks in schools could be ditched within weeks under plans being considered by ministers.
Falling Covid rates mean face coverings in schools could be scrapped before Plan B restrictions are lifted – which is expected on January 26.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi is desperate to free youngsters from having to cover up all day long in classrooms.
One government insider said: “Masks in schools could theoretically come off sooner than January 26 – if we start seeing really good numbers.
“They are not not linked to Plan B, so it could happen sooner than lifting Plan B. It’s not going to be any slower.”
Compulsory face masks in classrooms were imposed at the beginning of term amid fear Omicron could overwhelm the NHS. But the government has admitted the evidence for using masks in schools to reduce Covid spread is “not conclusive”.
And new stats reveal Covid infection rates have dropped below 100,000 a day in the UK for the first time in over three weeks. Stats whizz Sir David Spiegelhalter yesterday said that Covid cases have now peaked.
The Cambridge University professor told the BBC: “We can agree that cases have peaked across the country and everything is improving. Hospitalisations look like they are coming down now but deaths are still going up – we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. But generally we are in a pattern of improvement.”
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He added: “What’s happened was much better than many predicted before Christmas….things went better than many thought. You may say this is the gamble that the government took and they got away with it.
“It was because of people off their own bat being cautious and being influenced by Chris Whitty’s advice.”
Ministers are expected to ditch Plan B measures – including vaccine passports, work from home orders and compulsory face masks indoors in shops, public transport and other crowded spaces – on January 26. Although government insiders fear unions will fight tooth and nail to keep masks.