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Decision in the next few days over mandatory face coverings in shops

Reported in the Huffington Post, 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: “What I want to see is people who have been working from home for a long time, now talking to their employers, talking to their places of work, about the steps that have been taken, and looking to come back to work in a safe way,” he said.

“I think that’s got to be the key thing. Where businesses have made a huge effort to make the workplace safe I do think people should start to think about getting back to work – but provided we all continue to follow the precautions.”

KJM Today Opinion

The use of face masks in other countries, most notable some in the far east, has been established for some time. There are places around the world where wearing a covering over the nose and mouth is routine - and was so before the outbreak of Covid-19. But that isn't the case in the United Kingdom, or for that matter around most Western countries.

Tradition has it not only in the West but most societies worldwide that covering the face is not a good thing as the face is one of the primary means of expression, not to mention a more simple but vital one of identification. But leaving those two points aside, it is occurring to increasing numbers of people that the idea of covering one's face now, in July, when the infection rate is decreasing, is rather odd.

If such a move is really needed, it should have been done well before now. Whilst wearing a face mask has been a matter of individual choice, huge numbers have not worn them and there appears to be no significant rise in infections. One can go further - while the Prime Minister may well point to 'growing scientific evidence' that face coverings will help, there is an equal body of opinion that suggests covering the nose and mouth traps much of the toxins we breathe out beneath such a covering. These toxins then re-enter the body as we breath in, with the result that we could then fall ill...although not from Covid-19.

Such illnesses can prove fatal, as we have seen, but as we have also seen, these are then attributed to 'The Coronavirus'. This is a misrepresentation of the truth at best, an outright lie at worst. Whilst there is a case to be made for wearing a mask on trains and buses, there is none for doing so in shops and stores.

Over and above this, there is also the matter of social interaction. The UK is in danger of becoming a society where people cower indoors, frightened to go out and when they do, 'shielding' themselves against all and any form of contact with others, including covering oneself completely. This is patently unhealthy.

Apart from that, we live in times that are not ideal - there is a continuing threat from terrorism, there is a continuing threat from criminality. Neither are - despite recent events, necessarily new. Criminal behaviour has always been present and the state imposition of face coverings makes detection and identification not just more difficult but impractical. The criminal is being granted state-sponsored licence to operate.

What happens in other countries, and the actions taken in them, is a matter for those countries - but in the UK, individual, free people, must remain so. The decision on wearing a mask must remain the choice of the people and not that of state diktat.

Image - Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, visits the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust in London


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