BUSINESSES will be asked to give their staff face coverings when they return to work according to advice due to be announced on Sunday.
Boris Johnson is expected to recommend their use at work, on public transport and while out shopping when he delivers his coronavirus lockdown address at 7pm Sunday.
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The advice is not legally binding but SAGE has recommended the use of “non-surgical coverings” to reduce the spread and reserve the high-grade masks for front line workers and the NHS staff that need it.
The Cabinet Office has since commissioned and paid for machines to make appropriate face coverings so that businesses can obtain them directly from the Government according to the Telegraph.
Employers will be expected to provide masks for their workers for free according to ministers.
Advisors and officials have repeatedly warned against buying top-grade respirators as, unlike reusable coverings, they are relatively impractical and expensive for day to day use.
The Department of Health is due to set out a range of options for face coverings, including what material they should be made of.
The scientific evidence so far is that face coverings can have an effect preventing someone spreading the disease to others if they have coronavirus but are asymptomatic.
The current official advice from the government and WHO is that you don’t need to wear a mask on a day to day basis, but there is a growing consensus that wearing a mask is better than nothing and that it provides psychological benefits.
There is fear however that it will encourage people to ignore social distancing and give them a false sense of immunity.
A government minister said: “There is a theory that wearing masks might make people less vigilant, but this is about giving people the confidence to return to work.
“If it makes people feel safer using public transport then it is a good thing, so we are leaning towards it.”
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on April 30, Mr Johnson said: “I do think that face coverings will be useful, both for epidemiological reasons, but also for giving people confidence that they can go back to work.”
The Scottish government has already recommended that people cover their faces while in some enclosed public spaces such as shops and public transport.
Earlier this week, it emerged that scientists had told Sage cloth face masks for the public should be seen like seatbelts and cycling helmets in the battle against the pandemic.
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The evidence review, by a sub-group of the Royal Society, found that fabric coverings could be at least half as effective as surgical masks and suggested the public should be encouraged to wear them once the lockdown is eased.
It also said the visibility of face coverings acted as a reminder of the need for physical distancing, increased handwashing, reduced face touching and group solidarity.
Other countries including Germany, the Czech Republic and the US have recommended wearing homemade masks including scarves and bandanas.
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