Michael Gove says face coverings WON’T be mandatory in shops in England despite Boris Johnson hinting at the move – and Nicola Sturgeon imposing the rule in Scotland
- Michael Gove said face coverings will not become compulsory in English shops
- Cabinet minister insisted the government will ‘trust’ people to do the right thing
- Boris Johnson hinted a mandatory masks and Scotland has imposed the rule
Michael Gove today dismissed the idea of making face coverings compulsory in shops – despite Boris Johnson strongly hinting at the change.
The Cabinet minister said it was best to ‘trust’ the public and wearing a mask was a matter of ‘good manners’.
The intervention comes after the PM said on Friday that he believed the government ‘needs to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces’.
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon – who has made the rule compulsory in shops in Scotland – said today that masks were the ‘right thing’.
And she swiped at the UK government’s coronavirus response by highlighting that 147 out of 148 deaths recorded yesterday were in England.
Asked about the issue on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, Mr Gove said: ‘I don’t think mandatory, no, 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.
On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today, Michael Gove said it was best to ‘trust’ the public and wearing a mask was a matter of ‘good manners’
Boris Johnson was pictured wearing a face mask for the first time in public while out in his Uxbridge constituency on Friday
Nicola Sturgeon – who has made the rule compulsory in shops in Scotland – said today that masks were the ‘right thing’ to do
How the government’s line on face coverings has changed over the months
March 12: Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries: ‘For the average member of the public walking down a street, it is not a good idea… in fact, you can actually trap the virus in the mask and start breathing it in.’
April 16: Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: ‘The evidence is weak, but the evidence of a small effect is there under certain circumstances.’
April 21: Revealed in meeting minutes a month later, Sage advised: ‘On balance, there is enough evidence to support recommendation of community use of cloth face masks, for short periods in enclosed spaces, where social distancing is not possible.’
April 23: Dr Jenny Harries said there could be ‘a very, very small potential beneficial effect in some enclosed environments’.
April 24: Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘On masks, as more information comes through, the science is constantly evolving and we always bear in mind that science and then take the decision. As of today, the government position is unchanged.’
April 30: Boris Johnson said: ‘I do think that face coverings will be useful, both for epidemiological reasons, but also for giving people confidence that they can go back to work.’
May 20: Researchers in Hong Kong found face masks reduced infection by up to 75 per cent.
June 4: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that face coverings will be mandatory on public transport from June 15. He said: ‘With more people using transport the evidence suggests wearing face coverings offers some – albeit limited – protection against the spread for the virus.’
June 5: Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed plans to make face coverings compulsory in hospitals for all staff, visitors and outpatients from June 15, but a furious NHS boss said the decision was made ‘without any notice or consultation’. Meanwhile, Grant Shapps said masks would not be required in other settings such as shops because people spend little time in close proximity.
June 12: German study suggests making face masks compulsory could slow the spread of Covid-19 by as much as 40 per cent.
July 10: The PM says the government ‘needs to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces’. A government source later briefs that it is a ‘fair assumption’ that masks will become mandatory in shops and other indoor settings within a few weeks.
July 12: Michael Gove says masks will not be compulsory in shops in England, insisting it is best to ‘trust’ the public and wearing a face covering is a matter of ‘good manners’.
‘I think that it is basic good manners, courtesy and consideration, to wear a face mask if you are, for example, in a shop.
‘I trust people’s good sense. Now of course the Government at all times does look at the emerging evidence about what the best way to control the disease is.
‘If necessary, and if tough measures are required and as we have seen in Leicester, obviously a very different situation, then tough measures will be taken.
‘But on the whole… it is always best to trust people’s common sense.’
Mr Johnson was was pictured wearing face mask in public for the first time on Friday while touring a pub shops and a haidresser in his Uxbridge constituency.
Government sources briefed afterwards that it was a ‘fair assumption’ masks would become mandatory in shops and other indoor settings within a few weeks.
Currently the recommendation in England is that measures such as a face covering should be taken if people cannot keep two metres away from each other indoors.
However, the only place they are mandated is on public transport. In Scotland masks became compulsory in shops from Friday.
Speaking during an online Q&A session with members of the public on Friday, the PM admitted that ‘the balance of scientific opinion seemed to have shifted’ over how effective masks can be.
‘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,’ Mr Johnson said.
Before the PP’s photo op, Ms Sturgeon had appeared in public sporting a tartan model, and trolled Mr Johnson by retweeting an article asking why Westminster politicians were not wearing them.
A poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for MailOnline found 61 per cent of the public in England would like to see coverings enforced in shops and supermarkets – with just 26 per cent opposed.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics last week suggested half of adults are already routinely donning them.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been seen wearing a mask while visiting a hospital, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also wore one while attending a gallery this week.
But despite revealing he has a Florence Nightingale mask, the PM had not previously been seen wearing one.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak faced a backlash last week after he was pictured serving food to customers at a Wagamamas in London without a face covering.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has written to the PM saying he is ‘disappointed and frustrated’ that the Government has not said masks must be worn in ‘busy and enclosed public places’.
The Labour politician added: ‘Face coverings are not only vital for public health.
‘They could play an increasing role in supporting public confidence and our economic recovery.’
A poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for MailOnline found 61 per cent of the public in England would like to see coverings enforced in shops and supermarkets – with just 26 per cent opposed. The support is reflected across the wider UK