Boris Johnson says people ‘should be wearing face coverings’ in shops as he hints at enforcement action
Boris Johnson on a visit to London Ambulance HQ (Credit:PA)
Boris Johnson has said people "should be wearing face coverings in shops" as he hinted the Government may unveil stricter guidelines later this week.
The Prime Minister was pictured wearing a mask on a visit to London Ambulance Service HQ on Monday, and told reporters: "I do think that face coverings have a real value in confined spaces and I think the public do understand that."
Mr Johnson said ministers would examine "with what tools of enforcement we want to make progress" in the coming days — just 24 hours after Cabinet minister Michael Gove spoke out against making the wearing of masks mandatory.
The Prime Minister told Sky News: "What we've said for for a while now is that we do think that masks have a great deal of value.
"Obviously they're mandatory on public transport, on the tube. But they have a great deal of value in confined spaces where you're meeting, you're coming into contact with people that you don't normally meet.
"And what's been interesting on the face coverings issue in the last few months is that the scientific evaluation of face coverings and their importance in stopping at aerosol droplets, that's been growing.
"And, so I do think that in shops it is very important to be aware of face covering if you're going to be in a confined space and you want to protect other people and to receive protection."
And he added: "Face coverings, I think, people should be wearing in shops. And in terms of how we do that, whether we make it mandatory or not, we'll be looking at the guidance, we'll be saying, a little bit more in the next few days.
Mr Johnson added that, as the number of cases of Covid-19 falls, people could use them as "an extra insurance".
In England masks are currently required on public transport but only advised in shops and other indoor settings.
Scotland last week made it a legal requirement for people in shops to don the face coverings.
The PM's comments come after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said he did not think the wearing of face coverings should be made mandatory.
“But I would encourage people to wear face masks when they are inside, in an environment where they are likely to be mixing with others and where the ventilation may not be as good as it might," Mr Gove told the BBC.
"I think that it is basic good manners, courtesy and consideration, to wear a face mask if you are, for example, in a shop.”
Mr Gove added: "It's always best to trust people's common sense."
Meanwhile, Labour has called for clearer direction from ministers on what people should do.
Shadow health minister Justine Madders told Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday: “I think what we ask for really is clarity and certainty, and from that people will have confidence whether it’s right for them to return to retail settings in whatever way they’re told to is best for their health.
“We need Matt Hancock to come to the House and say this is what the science says, this is what we believe you should be doing and then let’s move on.
“Have a clear message and we all know where we stand.”