‘Ask Boris and Rishi!’ Tory Minister snaps at BBC host in fiery debate over face masks

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The Culture Minister said the decision on whether to make face masks mandatory in shops would be kept under review following the Scottish Government’s new guidance for the retail sector. When asked whether ministers had considered making face coverings mandatory for shoppers, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Yes of course, and they are mandatory on public transport.

“But we have said face coverings in closed spaces is advised but people can use their own discretion – but of course we will keep this under review.

“This is a topic upon which scientists tend to have rather different views so we are looking at it as new scientific studies emerge.”

Ms Dinenage said she wore face masks made by her son and that she had posted an image of herself wearing it on social media.

She said: “I wear mine all the time. I have a fashion design student as a son who has run me up a few on his sewing machine and I wear them all the time.

“A lot of us are out there wearing them as we go about our daily lives.”

But asked why the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak had not worn one in public, she snapped: “You’d have to ask the Prime Minister and the Chancellor that, with respect.

“But it is something that is advised and we keep it under review.”

She said “lots of my colleagues” had taken to wearing a face covering, adding: “If the scientific evidence proves that it definitely is something that needs to change, then of course we will.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a week ago that from July 10, it will be mandatory for shoppers to cover their face with a mask or similar garment.

But retail chiefs say they are yet to see the regulations making the wearing of face coverings mandatory in stores – despite the measure coming into force on Friday.

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy for the Scottish Retail Consortium, said firms have so far been working on draft guidance.

Mr MacDonald-Russell said it is “unprecedented” for a Government policy to be brought in so quickly, and he warned things may therefore not be “quite right” when it comes into force.

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On Thursday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said face coverings would not need to be worn in gyms.

Mr Dowden – who said he wore a face covering during a visit to the Royal Academy this morning – insisted a “whole series of mitigating measures” would be in place in gyms.

“We have not taken a decision to require the wearing of face masks in respect of gyms,” he said.

Mr Dowden said the Government’s approach to face coverings was “context specific” and endorsed by scientific advisers.

It was a “proportionate approach whereby wearing masks is one way of mitigating risks but it sits alongside a whole suite of other things”, including washing hands and social distancing.

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