The move to make face coverings mandatory in shops will bring England in line with Scotland, and some other major European countries like Spain, Germany and Italy, who have already implemented the measure. Those who fail to comply with the new rules could face a fine of up to £100, the Government is expected to announce. Face masks and coverings have been compulsory on public transport in England since June 15.
How effective are face masks?
Much research has been done around the effectivity of wearing face masks in preventing coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said Brits should be wearing face coverings in shops because they offer a “great deal of value” in controlling the spread of coronavirus.
The Government’s original 50-page plan says: “As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people’s immediate households.
“This increased mobility means the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible, and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops.”
Face masks: How effective are face masks?
Face masks: Face coverings in shops will become mandatory on July 25
The official UK Government guidance states that evidence around wearing face coverings suggests it “does not protect you” from the virus.
But the guidance adds: “If you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.”
The evidence of face coverings preventing the spread of infection from one to another is “marginal but positive”, according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
However, there is substantial evidence to show that wearing face masks has an overwhelmingly positive effect on keeping the virus at bay.
Face masks: face coverings have been mandatory on public transport since June 15
Face masks: There is no conclusive evidence to suggest face masks work
Aside from those masks with a valve, all the face coverings were found to reduce the distance droplets could travel by at least 90 percent.
However, on the other side of the coin, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stressed that face masks “on their own” will not protect from COVID-19.
The WHO says there is no evidence that wearing one – whether medical or any other kind – by healthy people in the wider community can prevent them from becoming infected.
An analysis conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA), found that wearing a face mask slightly reduces the odds of infection by the wearer, but only by roughly six percent.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at UEA and one of the authors of the study, said: “The value of face masks in the community is still an issue that the scientific community has not reached consensus on.”
Fears have been raised that face masks and coverings could give people a false sense of security, meaning they are more relaxed when it comes to following social distancing rules.
The Government’s official advice states that people should avoid buying up surgical masks and leave them for people who need them while at work.
Instead, it encourages people to get creative and make a face covering at home, saying “the key thing is it should cover your mouth and nose”.