The last few days have been characterised by widespread confusion about the idea, with Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove suggesting it would be best to trust in people’s common sense. However, Mr Johnson today said people should wear masks in confined spaces and said the Government was looking at what “tools of enforcement” were necessary to ensure they did, with the Government confirming police would begin enforcing the rules on July 24.
Readers were asked: “Should face coverings be compulsory in shops?”
The poll attracted a total of 6,316 votes, or which 3,285 – 52 percent – said yes.
Conversely, 2,946 voters – just under 47 percent – said no.
The remaining 85 votes – just over one percent – were undecided.
The rules on wearing masks in confined spaces are not entirely clear
A narrow majority felt masks should be compulsory
One reader used a medical precedent to emphasise why masks were a good idea, saying: “Why are face masks used in operating theatres?
“Oh yes to stop infections so, for a limited time why could they not be worn now?”
Another added: “Does it really hurt anyone to place a face covering over ones mouth and nose when in a confined space?
“If not for yourself, but to show you care about other people around you.
“Some believe it doesn’t stop the virus – but there is no harm done either way by doing it.
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Boris Johnson speaking today
“I don’t see it as taking away people’s freedom – I see it as showing you care and are a moral, decent person who is thoughtful.
“There is too much of this frivolous attitude in the country where certain people believe they are immune and therefore don’t care about others.”
Andy Lemming commented: “Wearing a face mask when close to others shows respect for their safety by not wanting to spread any potential infection.
“Why is it not acceptable for others to show the same respect?
Another added: “If it stops you infecting other people then a mask in my opinion should be compulsory in public places or we will never get rid of COVID or the dreaded fear of lockdowns.
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Michael Gove had previously suggested the Government would rely on common sense
Face masks are said to help prevent people passing COVID-19 on to others
“People are not taking this disease seriously.”
Another referred to the long-term health impact of the virus, saying: “You will prob survive but most are left with dreadful side effects.
“Those that we hear about who get it without showing any symptoms – unproven and unlikely (swab tests are not accurate).
“And everyone who gets it brings us one step closer to economic armageddon.
“WEAR A MASK. WEAR GLOVES (cloth/leather are best as they don’t sweat). Stay Safe.”
Coronavirus cases worldwide
However, many others were less convinced.
One critic wondered why the measures were suddenly necessary, asking: “Why now? I’ve been going to the supermarket throughout this virus. The time to do this was months ago.”
Meanwhile Martin Brooks said: “Face masks have not been compulsory in supermarkets all through the lockdown so why should they become compulsory now?
“If smaller shop owners want customers to wear masks that is their choice.
“If they lose business as a result that too will have been their choice.”
Shoppers will be required to wear face masks from July 24
Another doubted the effectiveness of masks in any case, saying: “Face masks are as effective in stopping corona particles as chicken wire in stopping a mosquito.
“Its pointless wearing them unless you already have an infection and are coughing and sneezing but, in that case you should stay at home anyway.”
Asked about the issue today, Mr Johnson said: “Masks have a great deal of value in confined places.”
“I do think that in shops it is very important to wear a face covering.
“In terms of how we do that, whether we make it mandatory or not, we will be looking at the guidance and will saying a little bit more in the next few days.”