Britain, France to tighten rules on coronavirus masks


British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday that wearing a mask will be mandatory in UK stores and supermarkets from July 24, a decision that followed weeks of government procrastination over efficiency face covers during the coronavirus crisis.On the other side of the Channel, amid signs of a slight resurgence of the virus in France, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he too wanted to demand masks in all interior public spaces by the 1st August.

Hancock told legislators in the House of Commons that face covers can help keep people who work in stores safe and can give people more confidence to shop safely.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, so let’s all do our best to keep this virus in the corner and enjoy the summer safely,” he said.

Already, people in England have to wear face covers on public transport and in hospitals. Anyone who fails to do so can be fined $ 125 (US), and stores can refuse entry to anyone who does not comply.

Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.

Hancock pointed out that wearing a mask complements other measures to keep a lid on the COVID-19 pandemic, such as washing hands and respecting the rules of social distancing.

“We cannot let our progress today lead to complacency tomorrow,” he said.

Many European countries, including Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece, already require that masks be worn in enclosed spaces. Britain and France had adopted a more relaxed attitude, recommending but not requiring their use.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent a week in the hospital while undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in the spring, was only seen in public under a mask last week. Monday morning he urged people to wear them. On Monday evening, his government announced that it would be mandatory.

In an interview with French TV channels on July 14, Macron said that “the best prevention” against the virus consisted of masks, social distancing and hand washing.

The recent rave parties in France and the general decline in social distancing – including within Macron’s presidential palace and other government facilities – have raised concerns and prompted the government to consider stricter mask rules.

The British authorities hope that the public will comply without threat of punishment. London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the BBC that he believed “Londoners, by and large, will follow the rules”, without much need for police.

“The problem is not the question of application. The problem is mixed messages and confusing communications, “said Khan.

The British Secretary of the Environment, George Eustice, also did not rule out the possibility that masks would become mandatory in offices and other workplaces. He told the BBC on Tuesday that the government was taking it “one step at a time.”

The new requirement for masks in stores only applies in England. The Scottish regional government has already made masks mandatory in stores.


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