Labour is urging for health secretary, Matt Hancock, to make a statement to parliament clarifying whether face coverings will become compulsory for shoppers in England. Tara Pilkington reports.
This comes following a push for changes to current government guidelines from retailers and scientists, as there is still a lack of clarity regarding whether masks should be worn in shops and supermarkets.
In England, it is currently only mandatory for masks to be worn on public transport. However, Boris Johnson on 10 July hinted that changes to regulation could be expected following the need for a stricter approach to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
Labour is now urging for more clarity on this, following comments by Michael Gove made yesterday in which he stated that face coverings would not be mandatory and that the public should continue to use their ‘common sense’.
Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, has said regarding these comments: “Ministers are in a complete muddle. On Friday, Boris Johnson gave everyone the impression they would be mandatory, only for Michael Gove to contradict him on Sunday,”
He added: “Ministers need to come to the Commons on Monday and clear up this confusion. People just want to do the right thing to stay safe. Clear guidance from ministers shouldn’t be too much to ask for.”
This morning, president of the Royal Society, Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, said: “I think that the government should be very clear, it’s not consistent to make it mandatory in public transport and not make it mandatory in other enclosed and busy public spaces because the behaviour of the virus is the same in all of these spaces,”
Until wearing face coverings becomes mandatory, then it seems unlikely that a majority of the public will wear such coverings whilst in shops and similarly enclosed spaces as they have yet to do this despite health officials insisting that this act can help slow the spread of coronavirus.
As it is the government’s responsibility to guide us through the pandemic, then surely making such regulation mandatory is in the best interest of the British public?