Boris Johnson says face coverings 'will be useful' when Britain emerges from lockdown

30 April 2020, 18:15

Face coverings "will be useful the Prime Minister has said
Face coverings "will be useful the Prime Minister has said. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has said face coverings "will be useful" in efforts to stop a second peak of coronavirus in the UK.

Speaking during the daily Downing Street press office - his first in over a month - the Prime Minister said new guidance will be given next week on the use of face coverings.

Mr Johnson said that the use of masks could give people confidence in returning to work and using public transport, and give some protections against the spread of the virus.

He said: "I think what SAGE is saying, and what I certainly agree with, is that as part of coming out of the lockdown, 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 and you be hearing more about that next week."

So far, the government has advised against the use of face coverings in public, despite evidence in some countries claiming their use can help stop people spreading and catching the disease.

Mr Johnson recently recovered from coronavirus
Mr Johnson recently recovered from coronavirus. Picture: PA

Scottish Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week announced her governments advice was for face coverings to be worn in shops and on public transport.

By face covering, the Scottish Government "do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted his thoughts on the upcoming guidance and said: "I am pleased that the Prime Minister has said that non-medical face coverings will play an important role as we eventually look to lift lockdown restrictions.

"This is something I and others have been pushing the Government to change the guidance on."

But Health Secretary has previously told LBC's Nick Ferrari that the impact of wearing a mask is "small unless you are in a clinical setting."

Cabinet minister Michael Gove also said yesterday that there are worries the UK population might act in a "cavalier way" if facial coverings are officially recommended by the government.

Mr Gove told the Commons' public administration and constitutional affairs committee: "The scientific evidence so far says face coverings can have an effect in preventing an individual from spreading the disease to others if they have it and are asymptomatic.

"But there is also a worry that some people may think that wearing a mask protects themselves, as distinct to protecting others, and therefore they may behave in a manner that is slightly more cavalier.

He confirmed the Cabinet was continuing to keep the current advice "under review".

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