UK coronavirus live: face coverings could be made mandatory in UK shops, says minister

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Justice secretary Robert Buckland says rules on face masks in UK shops could be imposed if people don’t wear them out of choice

Leading experts have criticised the UK government’s stance on face-coverings, describing it as inconsistent and “jolly confusing”.

Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, the president of the Royal Society who also sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on coronavirus, said the evidence on face coverings had “shifted” and was now “quite strongly in favour” of using face coverings in enclosed spaces where people are likely to come into contact with strangers.

Should face coverings be compulsory in shops?

President of the Royal Society Dr Venki Ramakrishnan says it doesn’t make sense to make masks mandatory on public transport but not other enclosed spaces, as the virus doesn’t know the difference.

Should it be mandatory for people to wear face coverings in shops across the UK?

In Scotland, it is the law for shoppers to wear face coverings when they reopen today. But the governments in England and Wales have stopped short of making it mandatory and the messaging from Westminster has been unclear in recent days.

“[Gove] took the view as he was answering the question that we should encourage good sense – I agree with that. If it becomes necessary to nudge people further by taking further action then of course we will consider that.

“We’ve done it on public transport where people have to be together with each other perhaps for hours at a time. We follow the evidence and take considered decisions. I think the matter is under careful and daily review.”

“I think outside is one thing, with social distancing, but a small shop I think is a very sensible place to wear a covering, and it protects people working in the shop, and also anybody else who you might come into contact with.

“I think a mask is just an additional helpful mitigation that isn’t just an act of courtesy. I think it’s an act of increasing safety and public confidence.”

“I think, carrying one with me and wearing one into a supermarket is a good idea and I think, frankly, the best thing to do is to carry on wearing it. I think if the supermarket is very busy then wearing it is absolutely sensible. I think people can be trusted to have the good sense to make the judgment call.”

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