Do you think face coverings should be compulsory?

Face masks are rumoured to soon be mandatory in shops Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Face masks are rumoured to soon be mandatory in shops Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

It has been suggested the use of face masks or coverings could become mandatory in shops – we ask, what do you think about wearing them?

There has been some confusion from Whitehall over the future of the coverings, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he wants to be “stricter” on insisting people wear them.

Shoppers in Scotland already have to wear a face covering in shops by law.

Face coverings have been mandatory on public transport since June 15 – the same day non-essential retail stores were allowed to reopen – but that aside, the use of masks are not enforced in day-to-day life.

Extra precautions, including wearing a face covering, are advised when in situations where a 2m distance between others is not possible.

In an interview with BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said although he believes wearing them should be encouraged, they should not be a mandatory requirement.

Mr Gove said: “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.

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“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.”

The use of masks is said to help prevent the chance of spreading the virus to others – with the masks said to block droplets containing the virus from entering the air.

Professor Wendy Barclay, chairwoman in influenza virology at Imperial College London, said: “The use of face masks is really about protecting other people from you in case you’re infected, we do think this virus is breathed out in droplets, whether or not these droplets are large or small it’s quite likely that a face mask will remove some of them from your breath.”

Michael Gove’s opposite number, Labour MP Rachel Reeves, has backed calls for the mandatory use of face coverings in shops and said it would represent a “sensible way forward”.