Boris Johnson will decide in the next few days whether face coverings will be mandatory in shops as the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted in England.
Speaking on a visit to the London Ambulance on Monday, the prime minister said coverings have have real value in confined spaces and that people should wear them in shops.
But he went on to say his government had yet to make a ruling on whether they should be made compulsory. It comes after Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove sparked confusion by saying on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that coverings would not be enforced in shops but that wearing them was basic good manners.
The prime minister told reporters during a visit to the London Ambulance Service HQ in London that there was growing evidence face coverings could limit the spread of Covid-19.
He said: They have a great deal of value in confined spaces where you’re coming into contact with people you don’t normally meet.
The scientific evaluation of face coverings and their importance on stopping aerosol droplets, that’s been growing, so I do think that in shops it is very important to wear a face covering if you’re going to be in a confined space and you want to protect other people and receive protection in turn.
Asked if it was his personal view that coverings should be worn, he said: Yes. Face coverings, I think, people should be wearing in shops, and in terms of how we do that whether we will be making that mandatory or not – we will be looking at the guidance. We will be saying a little bit more in the next few days.
Johnson said coverings had real value and were a kind of extra insurance for the public. His words echoed those of justice secretary Robert Buckland who said coverings should be worn and that they would boost confidence.
Johnson added: We will be looking in the next few days about exactly how, with what tools of enforcement, we think we want to make progress [over coronavirus].
As the virus comes down in incidence and we have more and more success, I think face coverings are a kind of extra insurance we can all use to stop it coming back and stop it getting out of control again.