BMA calls for face masks in offices as people 'let down their guard' at work

11 October 2020, 13:38 | Updated: 11 October 2020, 13:43

By Joe Cook

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the British Medical Association has told LBC’s Tom Swarbrick on Sunday that it is not “sensible or logical” to make masks compulsory in shops but not in workplaces.

The GP also called for the government to tighten the rule of six in England to ensure a maximum of two households can meet, rather than the current system in which people from six different households can mix indoors.

On Saturday, the BMA recommended making the wearing of masks mandatory in all offices and workplaces, as well as outdoors where two-metre social distancing is not possible.

Speaking to Swarbrick on Sunday, Dr Nagpaul said: “Indoors is the highest area of risk. It doesn't seem sensible or logical to require people to wear a face coverings or masks, for example, in a supermarket or a shop, but still be able to go to work, mix with others in less than two metre distances.

“We know that people at work do talk to each other, mix, they do let down their guard.

He added: “Certainly we wouldn't want to be suggesting that people wear masks when they meet their own household members, but where they are meeting other people outside their household, we have to find ways of preventing spread from one person to the other. “

However, Conservative backbencher Sir Desmond Swayne MP dismissed the calls for new rules as a “totalitarian itch”.

“The BMA have decided that they think it is a good idea and therefore we should be required by law, compulsorily, to do as they require.”

“No doubt, given its record, the government will oblige and pass laws to treat us in this way.

“What first about actually trying to persuade us that this is a good idea, level with us, explain and encourage us, rather than force us? We are after all supposed to be a liberal democracy.”

But Dr Nagpaul stressed that, with cases surging across the UK, “the current measures clearly haven't been effective enough”.

“We have seen more than 15,000 new cases yesterday. In the middle of July it was less than 500. We have got around 400 patients currently fighting for their lives on ventilators. A month ago only 62 were on ventilators. We have seen 443 deaths in the last week, 77 a month ago.

“That is why we think it is important to put in place additional measures to actually prevent the very lockdowns that are being done locally.”

He continued: "We have got to remember that masks are one part of a range of measures that need to take place and people are mixing indoors more than ever before.

“Now if people were to be distanced or have physical barriers between each other, including the wearing of masks, you would reduce the infection spread."