Sadiq Khan doubles down and insists on face coverings in public

28 April 2020, 18:05 | Updated: 28 April 2020, 18:17

By Seán Hickey

The Mayor of London ramped up pressure for the government to formally recommend wearing facial coverings in public to stop coronavirus spreading.

Sadiq Khan has been outspoken in recent times in his campaigning for the public to wear facial coverings when they cannot practice social distancing for example, while shopping or using public transport. He has told LBC in the past, and did similarly now, that wearing a facial covering is "the most unselfish thing you can do".

The Mayor of London was speaking to Shelagh Fogarty on the matter of facial coverings after the announcement from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that she recommends the Scottish population to wear facial coverings to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Shelagh wanted to know if Mr Khan would follow in Ms Sturgeon's footsteps and override the government recommendations. "Will you just step out and say 'Londoners, wear face masks'".

The Mayor of London confirmed that the day may come where he has to overrule the government line, but acknowledged that it may cause confusion at this particular moment in time. "One of the worst things is to have mixed messages" Mr Khan stated and assured Shelagh that he is "pushing the government to change its guidance".

He claimed that "we should treat the public as adults and let the public know how we will modify and lift lockdown" so no change in advice is not taken by surprise. He listed the possible ways in which we could begin lifting lockdown, stating the UK could "phase it by sector, those who work outdoors like construction can go first" and could also be phased by geographical or age factors.

"We should be having these conversations with the public" Mr Khan insisted.

The Mayor of London told LBC he is close to recommending Londoners wear facial coverings
The Mayor of London told LBC he is close to recommending Londoners wear facial coverings. Picture: PA

The Mayor of London also shared with Shelagh that his office are currently working out how to work the TfL network in a modified lockdown. Shelagh wanted to know more.

Sadiq Khan noted that "on transport you can't keep your social distance" and so "it will be inevitable that we will need to wear non medical facial coverings". He shared the information that "23% of Londoners are now wearing non medical facial masks" and this is a good place to begin from given there has been no formal recommendation.

Shelagh noted the government's plans to provide life assurance to the families of NHS staff should they be affected fatally by coronavirus. She wanted to know the Mayor of London's opinion on the matter.

Mr Khan agreed that this was an excellent strategy and is vital to protecting families most at risk during the outbreak. He also went on to reveal that his office is looking into this in relation to TfL, where a worrying amount of staff have been claimed by the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving many families at risk.

The mayor of London told Shelagh that "we've advised our employees and their trade unions to make sure they remind bereaved families that when people die in the course of their duties the life assurance does provide a significant lump payment". He recognised that this is not an ideal situation but did note that it is only fair that this is on offer to the families of vulnerable workers.

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