Boris Johnson considering enforcing 'stricter' rules on mandatory face masks
10 July 2020, 18:45
The Prime Minister has hinted that he is considering enforcing "stricter" rules on mandatory face masks in England, including wearing them in shops.
The comments came as Boris Johnson signalled an apparent shift in government policy on returning to normal life.
During a public Q&A hosted by the Prime Minister, he told viewers he is actively considering tightening the rules in England as the lockdown is lifted and infection numbers decrease.
When asked whether shoppers in England could be told they must cover their faces, Mr Johnson said: "As we get the numbers down in the way we have and we stamp out local outbreaks in the way that we are, I do think we need to be stricter about insisting people wear face coverings in confined places where they are meeting people they don't normally meet.
"That is why it is mandatory already on public transport."
Passengers are required to cover their mouths and noses on public transport in England. In Scotland, face masks are already required to be work in shops.
Mr Johnson made the remarks on the first day that he was seen out and about wearing a face mask whilst visiting local businesses in Uxbridge on Friday.
The Prime Minister wrote on Twitter: "It was great to visit some local businesses in Uxbridge today, and see how they've been working hard to make their premises Covid-19 Secure.
"If you're out this weekend be sure to follow the guidelines on social distancing."
It was great to visit some local businesses in Uxbridge today, and see how they’ve been working hard to make their premises COVID-19 Secure.— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) July 10, 2020
If you’re out this weekend be sure to follow the guidelines on social distancing. #StayAlert pic.twitter.com/54eCyvOa9D
The Prime Minister continued: "We are looking at ways we an ensure people really do have face coverings in shops, where there is a risk of transmission.
"I don't think we are going to get to a world where we are going to say that everybody has to wear face coverings the whole time everywhere, but the balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted more in favour of them than it was and we are very keen to follow that."
He added: "I do want to get back to a world where the British people feel able to shake hands again. That's what we're aiming for, but face coverings we increasingly think that we have got to be very insistent that in confined places where you are meeting people you don't normally come into contact with - transport, shops, wear a face covering."
Mr Johnson also hinted at a return to work for many, stating that people should "go back to work if they can".
Up until now, government advice has stated that people should work from home wherever possible.
In a signal that the government is pushing for people to end their four months of working from home, Mr Johnson added: "I want people to go back to work as carefully as possile.
"It is very important that people should be going back to work if they can. Everybody has taken the 'stay at home if you can' message.
"I think we should now say go back to work if you can, because it's very important that people should try to lead their lives more normally.
"I want to see more people feeling confident to use shops and use restaurants and get back to work, but only if we all follow the guidance."
The PM says we need to be stricter on face masks..— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) July 10, 2020
..so why don't the Government get their act together and make face masks mandatory in shops and enclosed spaces?
Once again, we are behind the rest of the world in our response to this virus. https://t.co/HhokM4WpTg
However, London Mayor Sadiq Khan criticised the Prime Minister for being slow in their response.
In a tweet, he said: "The PM says we need to be stricter on face masks..
"..so why don't the Government get their act together and make face masks mandatory in shops and enclosed spaces?
"Once again, we are behind the rest of the world in our response to this virus."