Politics

Boris Johnson hints at huge change to UK’s face mask rules as Britons come out of lockdown

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Boris Johnson has hinted that the Government may toughen the rules on face coverings in England. During the People’s PMQs, the Prime Minister said there needs to be “stricter” guidance on face coverings in certain areas. His comments come as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made it compulsory for Scots to wear face masks in shops and on public transport.

In England, the public must wear a face covering on public transport.

Speaking on Facebook Live, Mr Johnson said: “As we get the numbers down in the way that we have and we really stamp out outbreaks in the way that we are, I do think we need to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don’t normally meet.

“We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops, for instance, where there is a risk of transmission.”

It comes as Downing Street has faced questions about why more Cabinet ministers are not wearing face coverings after new figures suggested the majority of Britons are covering up while in public.

Fresh data from the Office for National Statistics indicated that 52 percent of adults in Britain had worn a face covering when leaving their home in the final week of June, up from 43 percent on the week before.

Regardless of whether they had worn a face coverings previously, 58 percent of the 1,788 adults quizzed between July 2-5 said they were very or fairly likely to wear one in the next seven days.

The level of usage provoked further questions for Number 10 about why so few of the Government’s leading figures had been spotted wearing a face covering.

There have been no public sightings of Mr Johnson wearing a face covering while Chancellor Rishi Sunak, following his summer economic statement, was pictured serving food to customers at a Wagamama restaurant in central London without a non-surgical mask.

Government recommendations as part of the “one metre-plus” guidance are that measures such as wearing a face covering should be taken if people indoors cannot keep two metres away from each other.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister, asked about the lack of ministerial face covering appearances, said: “I don’t spend my time with individual ministers but all the ministers abide by the social distancing guidance which is in place.”

Mr Sunak has also been pictured greeting people this week by bumping elbows to avoid shaking hands.

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When asked whether such a gesture was according to social distancing rules, the PM’s spokesman said: “The guidance is clear that you should stay two metres apart where you can.

“If that’s not possible, it is one metre, plus mitigation, and that mitigation has been set out in the guidance.”

During the morning broadcast round, culture minister Caroline Dinenage said she had taken to wearing a face covering “all the time” and said “a lot” of her colleagues were doing the same.

To mark face coverings being made mandatory on public transport last month, the Tory MP tweeted a picture of herself on June 5 while wearing a cloth covering.

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