James O'Brien clashes with caller who 'has an issue' with face masks

2 July 2021, 14:00 | Updated: 2 July 2021, 14:03

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien has clashes with this caller who "has an issue" with masks and welcomes them being made optional on 19 July - despite an increase in Covid cases.

The public will no longer be legally required to wear face masks from 19 July, Environment Secretary George Eustice has confirmed.

Coronavirus restrictions, including wearing face coverings in supermarkets and on public transport, are expected to be dropped on the final day of the lockdown roadmap.

James questioned this decision after the UK reported 27,989 Covid cases on Thursday, the most since late January.

Caller Lisa from Gravesend told James that she, unlike him, was happy masks are becoming optional.

"I do have an issue with wearing them," she said, "it's not because I'm stupid, it's for various reasons.

"I can't work from home. I work for a private company but we carry out work for a government organisation and that requires us to go to customer premises and go to sites and speak to various people.

"They are quite a serious impediment to communication."

James responded: "You know that everybody who wears them has to speak to people?"

Lisa acknowledged this was the case, continuing, "We've been wearing them for the last fifteen months...and I'd noticed the extent to which we all rely on lipreading and I found it's really difficult to hear people. My job is all about communication, I interview people day in day out."

James replied "same here", to which the caller said, "But I need to speak to them face to face but you don't.

"I have spoken to lots of people that have said the same thing, when they meet people face to face...it's really easy to mishear what they say."

James pointed out that Lisa could hear him but could not see his lips.

Lisa said, "It affects my ability for me to do my job. My second point is I find wearing face coverings personally really uncomfortable and oppressive."

"Everybody does," James said, to which Lisa continued that she is menopausal, which James is obviously not, and she also suffers from a skin condition meaning she finds them uncomfortable.

"Everybody finds them uncomfortable and everybody talks with them on," James said.

Lisa said she is "wearing them when she has to" and looks forward to not wearing them "all the time" - although admitted she was not wearing it while on the phone to James.

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