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Boris Johnson says Government will be ‘very insistent’ about people using face coverings in shops

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan as repeatedly called on the Government to make masks compulsory in shops (PA)

3 min read

Boris Johnson has said the Government will be “very insistent” on the use of face coverings in shops and other public spaces, but appeared to rule out making them mandatory.

It comes as new rules came into force in Scotland on Friday requiring shoppers to wear masks inside stores, in addition to wearing them on public transport. 

But in England, masks are still only mandatory on transport networks, with government guidance merely recommending them in shops and enclosed spaces.

Responding to members of the public during a ‘People’s PMQs’ event on Friday, the Prime Minister said Britain did not have a culture of wearing masks like some Asian countries.

But he said the UK had to "think about how we make it happen and how we make it work”. 

“I do think we need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined places where they are meeting people that they don't normally meet,” Mr Johnson said.

"That's why it's mandatory already on public transport, and we're looking at ways of making sure that people really do observe, or really do have face coverings in shops for instance where there is a risk of transmission."

The PM added: “I don't think that we're going to get to a world... where we're going to say everybody has to wear face coverings, the whole time, everywhere.

“But you're right what you say about the increasing balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted more in favour of them than it was and we're very keen to follow that.”

He added: “We increasingly think that we've got to be very insistent on confined places where you are meeting people that you don't normally come into contact with — transport, shops.”

The wearing of face coverings in public spaces has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 6 June, when it claimed that new research showed masks could provide "a barrier for potentially infectious droplets".

On Friday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan renewed his call to Boris Johnson to adopt the WHO’s recommendations and require the wearing of masks in shops. 

He wrote: “The evidence is clear that wearing face coverings in enclosed public places can reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus and I am disappointed and frustrated that the Government has not taken this opportunity to make face coverings mandatory in busy and enclosed public places.

“I simply don’t understand why we wouldn’t use all the tools at our disposal to try and stop the spread of this virus, so I am urging you to take more decisive action on this.”

Mr Khan added: “Face coverings are not only vital for public health. They could play an increasing role in supporting public confidence and our economic recovery. 

“Businesses across the capital need to encourage customers back or they will not survive, and the widespread use of face coverings are a visible signal that Londoners are willing to take the steps needed to keep each other safe.”

The Labour mayor first wrote to the Prime Minister calling on him to make the change on 18 June.

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