// PM Boris Johnson wants “stricter” rules around face coverings in confined spaces, like shops
// Downing Street is reportedly looking into the issue and it could be made law within weeks
Face coverings could be made mandatory in shops in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hinted.
The PM said he wanted to be “stricter” on insisting people wear mouth and nose coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they do not normally see.
Downing Street is understood to be looking at the issue, amid suggestions new rules could be introduced within a few weeks.
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Johnson was pictured wearing a face covering for the first time during the pandemic while visiting retail businesses in his Uxbridge constituency on Friday.
In an online question and answer session with the public, he said: “I do think we need to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don’t normally meet.
“We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops, for instance, where there is a risk of transmission.”
Johnson added: “I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants, and get back into work – but only if we all follow the guidance.”
Face coverings are currently compulsory on public transport and in hospitals in England, but are only advised in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and where “you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet”.
In Scotland, people are now legally obliged to wear face coverings inside shops and on public transport.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth urged the government to “conclude this review rapidly to provide the strong and clear guidance needed”.
The latest ONS figures suggest more than half (52 per cent) of adults in Britain who left their home in the week before being surveyed had worn a face covering.
The survey was conducted between July 2-5 and is up from the previous week, when 43 per cent reported doing so.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation acknowledged there was “emerging evidence” that Covid-19 could be spread through particles in the air.
The president of the Royal Society, Professor Venki Ramakrishnan, also said everyone should wear a face covering in public to reduce the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infection.
with PA Wires