People in England must wear face mask in shops from 24 July

pharmafile | July 14, 2020 | News story | Manufacturing and Production coronavirus, masks 

Face masks are set to become mandatory in shops across England beginning on 24 July, following months of mixed messaging from the government.

Enforcement will include a fine of up to £100 for non-compliance from the police. It comes a week after Scotland announced that face coverings would be compulsory in shops.

The British government has come under increasing pressure to make masks mandatory in certain places, as mounting evidence suggests face coverings will be vital in slowing the further spread of the virus. While they were already made mandatory on public transport, a YouGov poll found that the UK is one of the worst nations for wearing masks with only 36% of Britons wearing one in public. This is compared to 86% in Spain, 83% in Italy, 78% in France and 65% in Germany.

A 10 Downing Street spokesperson said: “There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from Coronavirus. The prime minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from 24 July.”

The push for the wider adoption of face masks comes after the World Health Organization recently highlighted the increasing evidence for the airborne transmission of the virus. It said in a statement: ““Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting.

“Respiratory droplet transmission can occur when a person is in close contact (within 1 metre) with an infected person who has respiratory symptoms or who is talking or singing; in these circumstances, respiratory droplets that include the virus can reach the mouth, nose or eyes of a susceptible person and can result in infection.”

There are several new studies showing the effectiveness of masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19 droplets. A study titled “Visualizing Speech-Generated Oral Fluid Droplets with Laser Light Scattering”, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in April, found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were generated when saying a simple phrase, but that nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth.

Another study published in Health Affairs compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in the District of Columbia in the US. It found the mask mandate slowed the coronavirus growth rate and reduced it from 2% to 0.9%.

Conor Kavanagh

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