Home Top News and Stories World News Headlines Michael Gove rules out compulsory masks in shops – but Downing Street says policy could still change

Michael Gove rules out compulsory masks in shops – but Downing Street says policy could still change


Michael Gove rules out compulsory masks in shops – but Downing Street says policy could still change

Michael Gove rules out compulsory masks in shops - but Downing Street says policy could still changeFace masks should not be made mandatory in shops, Michael Gove has said, despite Downing Street’s insistence the policy is still under review and could be introduced. Mr Gove warned against introducing a “binary divide” by making masks obligatory in public, stressing that face masks are “significantly less important outdoors…than indoors”. People should be allowed to use their own judgement to decide whether a mask is appropriate in different situations, he said, warning that some people could think they are invincible while wearing a mask. “I think people are intelligent, I think people can understand that this is a novel virus with specific challenges,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme. “I think it’s quite right to treat people with the respect that their intelligence and judgment deserves.” “It mustn’t be the case that anyone thinks that wearing a face mask would make you invulnerable.” Mr Gove said the masks should be worn out of consideration for others, even if they are not made mandatory. But Downing Street said the option to make masks compulsory was still on the table, suggesting the Prime Minister may think it will soon become necessary to force people to wear them. The risk of transmission of the virus indoors is reduced between people who are wearing face coverings, evidence suggests. “It is something which is under review and if the decision to make it mandatory is taken that will be announced in due course,” a No10 source said. Speaking in a Facebook video on Friday, Boris Johnson suggested the Government had plans to increase the proportion of people wearing masks in public. “We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops,” he said. “The balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted more in favour of them than it was, and we’re very keen to follow that”. “We need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don’t usually meet.” Face coverings have been compulsory in shops in Scotland since July 10. The masks are also compulsory on trains, buses and the London Underground, but the British Transport Police said it preferred to enforce the rules by “engaging with the public and explain the reasons why the protections are necessary and a lawful requirement”. Fines have been issued to repeat offenders and some arrests have been made, a spokeswoman said. The Labour Party signalled its support for masks to become compulsory in shops, but not in bars and restaurants, which it said would be impractical. Lucy Powell, a shadow business minister, accused the Government of “showing a bit of leg” by suggesting it would enforce face mask guidelines, but not announcing any change of policy. “We do need to get a lot more confidence back in the system and if the mandatory wearing of face masks in shops will help to do that then we absolutely support it,” she said. “We think the Government – instead of just showing a bit of leg occasionally on these things by briefing newspapers or saying things that are not clear guidance in press conferences as the Prime Minister did on Friday – [should] get some clarity. “That’s really something that would get confidence back into the system and get people feeling that they can go to the shops, they can go to restaurants and go to bars.” On Saturday, Mr Johnson was pictured wearing a mask during a visit to a pub and barber in his constituency. The Prime Minister chose to wear a light blue cloth mask that matched his party’s branding. It was the first time Mr Johnson has been photographed wearing a mask, following concern that Government ministers were discouraging mask usage by not wearing them in public. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, was criticised for not wearing one while serving food at Wagamama in a photo opportunity following last week’s budget announcement, while Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, did not cover his face while being photographed at a Brewdog pub. Donald Trump, the US President, was pictured in a face mask on an official visit for the first time over the weekend, while Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has been seen wearing a Government-branded face covering.


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