Face masks are set to be compulsory until 2021 if a coronavirus vaccine is not found by then, say government insiders.
It was announced this week face covering will become compulsory from July 24, or Brits could risk getting fined.
On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the new strict guideline.
However, police chiefs are worried enforcing face coverings would be "nigh-on impossible."
Now government insiders suggest the move could become the "new normal".
They warned face coverings could be required until scientists developed a successful vaccine which is unlikely to be available before mid-2021, Mirror Online reports.
Hancock confirmed yesterday that masks would be worn in shops from the end of next week to help control the spread of the virus.
The top Tory claimed that they will give the public "more confidence" to shop as the Government attempts to shore up the battered economy.
Shoppers could end up wearing masks for months to come - and that they could even be rolled out to other public areas.
One Cabinet source said: "We are not doing this with a timeline in mind. This is part of the new normal.
"Until we get a vaccine we are going to have to be doing a lot of these things.
"We are not going to be doing this for a few weeks and then giving up. It’s part of a wider package of measures, such a social distancing."
Another Government source added: "I don’t think anybody can know how long it will be but you have to assume we’ll be wearing masks for a while."
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the Mirror: "Matt Hancock couldn’t tell us how long we’ll need to be wearing face masks but they should be honest with the public and be clear that it’s likely to last for months until we find a vaccine or we are safely through the pandemic."
Experts warn face coverings should be worn in Britain until coronavirus is eradicated.
Most experts believe eradication is impossible without having a working vaccine, which is not likely to be rolled out until next year at the earliest.
Dr David Strain, a lecturer at Exeter University and chair of the British Medical Association’s Medical Academic Staff Committee, said: "We need masks to slow the spread and make life safer for the most vulnerable to go about essential activities.
"Yesterday more than 500 people tested positive for the virus, which the ONS figures suggest is only about a third of the true number of new cases in the UK.
"The remaining two-thirds of the population with the virus are the ‘silent spreaders’, people who carry and can potentially spread the virus despite having no symptoms themselves."
He went on: "The mandatory use of face coverings will reduce the risk to the population at large from these individuals."
Incidence rates need to fall to one new case per million per day before masks can be safely removed, he added.
Dr Julian Tang, a respiratory scientist at Leicester University, said: "Most of the world’s population is still susceptible to this virus, and we are still not sure how long any post-infection immunity will last.
"So if people can get used to all these precautions now, it will reduce the numbers of Covid-19 deaths over a longer-term."
It comes after scientists warned that the UK could face as many as 120,000 new coronavirus deaths from the disease without any further lockdowns, treatments or vaccines, with hospitals overwhelmed during winter flu season.
This report, commissioned by Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, found that a "reasonable" worst-case scenario could see between 24,500 and 251,000 virus-related deaths in hospitals alone, peaking in January and February.
The UK’s daily death toll rose by 138 to 44,968, although the true figure is believed to be higher.
Hancock told MPs that face coverings in shops will give the public "more confidence" to shop as the Government attempts to shore up the battered economy.