Image copyright # 10 Image caption Boris Johnson wore a mask when visiting a store in Uxbridge on Friday
Labor is asking the government to clarify its position on facial coatings after the prime minister said a “stricter” approach to use in England was needed.
Major sources said the government is considering making facial coatings in stores in England mandatory to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Face coverings have been mandatory in stores in Scotland since Friday.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said “strong and clear guidelines are needed”.
Johnson was photographed wearing a face covering for the first time while visiting companies in his Uxbridge constituency on Friday.
The UK government was initially hesitant – in the early days of the coronavirus crisis – to advise people to use facial coverings, arguing that the scientific evidence that they reduce transmission was “weak”.
However, rules that require people to wear masks on public transport in England were introduced on 15 June.
And on Friday, Johnson said that “the balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted more in their favor than it was, and we are very interested in following it.”
He said in a question and answer session on Facebook with the public: “I think we need to be more rigorous in insisting that people use face covers in confined spaces, where they are meeting people they don’t normally know.
“We are looking for ways to ensure that people actually have facial coverage in stores, for example, where there is a risk of transmission.”
Image copyright Andrew Parsons Media
Ashworth said it is “welcome” that ministers are reviewing the evidence for facial masks again.
“We urge ministers to complete this review quickly to provide the necessary strong and clear guidelines” he wrote on Twitter.
Shadow Treasury Secretary Wes Streeting said it was “not helpful” for the Prime Minister to do a photo shoot wearing a face mask until there is more clarity about when they should be worn.
“Right now, people are listening to different messages from different quarters,” the Labor MP told Any Questions on BBC Radio 4.
Tory MP and ex-minister Andrea Leadsom told the show that she doesn’t want masks to be mandatory, but that “people should be considerate of others” and starts thinking about taking one wherever they go.
The messages on the masks have evolved, to say the least. And Labor is asking the government to offer some quick clarity on the matter.
Of course, some suggest that the position has evolved as science has evolved. But perhaps something to consider here as well; the economy.
Today, Boris Johnson asked people to get back to work. He also suggested a stricter policy on face masks.
Behold, he was photographed in a store and food, wearing a face mask. It doesn’t take a detective to identify a comprehensive topic.
Ministers want people to start adopting the new normal; leaving their homes, spending money and helping companies to get up – but with mitigation measures, such as masks, in place.
Of course, these mitigations exist to help suppress transmission, but they can also contribute to helping people feel confident.
Because public trust is important; you can ask someone to do something, but they can resist unless you feel safe.
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh of the University of Oxford, who defended the widespread use of face coverings in April, told BBC Radio 4 Today that the vast majority of scientists “are now convinced by the evidence” that wearing masks in places crowded can reduce transmission.
Asked about the suggestion that facial masks benefit others more than the user, she added: “Wearing facial covers protects the user somewhat, but does not protect him much.
“Generally speaking, if I’m using a face cover, it can protect you 80% and protect me 20% or 30%.
“There is a little bit of protection for the person who wears the facial coatings, but it’s not as much as it protects other people from the droplets that come out of the person’s mouth.”
Greenhalgh added: “When I walk into a store, I’m certainly wearing a face covering without a doubt.
“Indoor environments are much more dangerous in terms of what we call airborne transmission. Someone coughs or speaks loudly and the virus enters the air and stays in that store in that indoor space.”
The World Health Organization says that non-medical facial coverings should be used where social distance is not possible.
Homemade cloth coverings can help reduce the spread of coronavirus in people who are contagious but have no symptoms or are still developing symptoms.
Currently, people in England are advised to use a facial cover in closed public spaces where social distance is not possible – in addition to the mandatory requirement to use one on public transport and when visiting hospitals.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he understood current health advice, but did not answer the “basic question” about whether people needed to wear a face cover when shopping.
He told Radio 4’s Today program: “I think with public health advice in a pandemic, you just need simplicity, so I would prefer to say that we should wear masks in stores.”
Those exempt from using facial covers include children under 11, people with disabilities, people with breathing difficulties and anyone traveling with someone who depends on lip reading.
Passengers who violate the rules for using facial coverage on public transport in England can be fined £ 100 and removed from services.
However, the British Transport Police had issued only 10 fines as of 22 June.
The rules on facial coverage vary between countries. In Scotland, facial coatings have been mandatory in stores since Friday and are also mandatory on public transport.
People in Wales are being asked to use non-medical facial coverage where social distance is not possible – including on public transport – but the Cardiff government has stopped making its use mandatory.
In Northern Ireland, plans to make facial coatings mandatory in public transport have been suspended pending legal clarification.
How has the UK government’s position in facial coatings changed?
March 12: England’s deputy medical director, Jenny Harries, says it is “not a good idea” for the general public to wear a face mask, as they may not wear it properly and are at risk of contracting coronavirus.
April 17: The transport secretary says the evidence on whether the masks work is “quite mixed” and can be used “could do more harm than good in certain situations”
May 1: Downing Street says face coatings have a “weak but positive effect” in reducing the spread of coronavirus
May 11: People in England are advised to use facial covers on public transport and in enclosed spaces where social distance is not always possible
June 15: facial coatings are mandatory on public transport in England
Meanwhile, outdoor pools can now reopen in England and amateur cricket, theater and other live performances are also allowed outdoors.
In Wales, accommodation without shared facilities may also reopen from Saturday.
This is after the prime minister said that people should now return to the workplace, if they can.
Another 512 cases of coronavirus were reported in the UK on Friday, and the Health Department said Another 48 people died from the virus.
- YOU, ME AND THE GREAT C: Cancer treatment during the pandemic
- LANDED WITH LOUIS THEROUX: The ten most surprising moments of the blocking podcast