MICHAEL Gove today urged people to wear facemasks in shops and other enclosed places – but said they would NOT be mandatory.
The Cabinet minister insisted that the evidence for wearing face coverings in spaces where people cannot stay apart had become stronger.
As of last week it is mandatory to wear one in a shop in Scotland, but not in England.
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.
Mr Gove told Sky’s Sophy Ridge Show this morning: “I think we should do everything we can to encourage people and to support people to wear face masks in enclosed places, particularly shops.”
He said the Government “will be able to help” in urging more people to cover up to stop the spread of the virus.
Studies have suggested that up to 70 per cent of people who have the virus could have it asymptotically – and do not know they have it.
Face coverings can stop people from spreading the virus unknowlingly.
Mr Gove said today that the Government was helping to beef up production of more face masks in the UK, to help with demand.
“That will make it easier for all of us to wear face masks where appropriate,” he said.
It was less necessary to wear one outdoors, he said.
“The evolving evidence is that it definitely helps you to help others in closed spaces.
“Outside you dont need to wear a face mask. Inside its absolutely a good idea.
“On public transport you should be wearing it.
“The spread is greater if you’re inside with poor ventilation.”
But he later told the Andrew Marr Show it would not be mandatory, saying “I trust people’s good sense” – in an apparent change of direction from the PM’s words just two days ago.
Mr Gove said: “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 Government’s current position is that people should wear them where they have to get closer to someone, but they are not forcd to except on public transport.
Only a handful of £100 fines have been dished out to people for not wearing them.