MASKS are set to become compulsory in shops in England within days, Boris Johnson suggested today.
After days of chaos and confused messages from ministers, the PM said the Government were undertaking a fresh review and talking to scientific experts this week before making a final decision.
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On a visit to see emergency workers and announce tougher rules for yobs who assault them, he said of face masks: "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.
"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."
He said that face masks were a "kind of extra insurance we can all use to stop it coming back and stop it getting out of control again."
At the moment it's only mandatory to wear a mask on public transport – like trains, planes, buses or trams.
Only a handful of £100 fines have been dished out to people for not wearing them.
But the public are encouraged to cover up when you go into shops and other smaller spaces where you could be closer to people.
Studies have shown it has a significant effect on stopping people who are infected from infecting others and spreading the virus – sometimes without symptoms.
Scotland has made it mandatory for people to wear them in shops, but England has not yet followed suit.
It came after the mask policy was thrown into chaos this morning afterRobert Buckland said masks should be "mandatory perhaps".
The news came the day after Michael Gove suggested they wouldn't be.
He said this morning: "If it becomes necessary to nudge people further by taking further action then of course we will consider that.
"We have done it on public transport where people have to be together with others, perhaps for hours at a time.
"We follow the evidence and take considered decisions. I think the matter is under careful and daily review."
The Government's position has flip-flopped on masks repeatedly, and even more so in the last week.
The PM said on Friday he was looking at tightening up the rules to make sure that more people wear them – a hint that making the mandatory could become the norm soon.
"We need to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined places when meeting people they don't normally meet.
"So that's why it's mandatory already on public transport, and we're looking at ways of making sure that people really do observe when you do have face coverings in shops for instance where … there is a risk of transmission."
But then Mr Gove told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show yesterday: "I don't think mandatory, no, but I would encourage people to wear face masks where they are inside and mixing with others, and the ventilation isn't as good."
The PM was spotted wearing a bright blue face mask for the first time last Friday evening.
He visited a shop in his Uxbridge constituency – leading to speculation that the change on masks would be coming soon.
And today he was snapped meeting emergency workers to highlight a new law.
Sick criminals who assault a cop or paramedic face twice as long behind bars under new government plans.
Ministers warned “vile thugs” will be hit “by the full force of the law” if they attack hero police and NHS staff.
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