London mayor Sadiq Khan says government delay over wearing of face coverings in shops “risks lives”

By Jessie Mathewson, Local Democracy Reporter

Face masks should be made mandatory in shops “immediately” as a delay will “risk lives,” the Mayor of London has warned.

Boris Johnson said on Monday that from July 24 people in England will have to wear masks in shops as “extra insurance” against the virus.

Mr Khan, pictured top, said the government had been too slow to act, and could not afford to wait “another day”.

The Mayor has lobbied ministers to extend the rules on face masks, which have be mandatory on public transport in England for a month.

He wrote to the Prime Minister on Friday, as masks became mandatory in shops in Scotland, urging England to follow Nicola Sturgeon’s lead north of the border.

Mr Khan said there was “clear, overwhelming expert scientific advice” that face coverings slow the spread of Covid-19.

Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms – a high temperature, a new or continuous cough, and loss of smell or taste – should isolate at home for seven days.

Up to 40 per cent of coronavirus cases could be asymptomatic, according to research by Imperial College London and the University of Padova in Italy.

The British Medical Association called on the government last month to make masks mandatory in shops.

And the Royal Society – Britain’s leading science body – said last week that no one should leave the house without a face covering.

Under the new rules, anyone who isn’t wearing a mask could face a £100 fine unless they have a valid medical reason.

Shop staff will not have to wear face coverings, according to Environment Secretary George Eustice.

The Mayor said he was pleased the Government has heeded expert advice on face coverings in shops, but wished there had been action sooner.

He said: “It’s a disgrace that there’s been days of mixed messages and confused communications from ministers.

“Time and time again this government has been slow to act and unclear in their advice, and as a result the public’s health has been placed at risk as a result.

“We can’t afford to wait another day and the government should bring this policy in immediately – further delay risks lives.”

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