Petition Make it mandatory to wear a face mask in public during Covid-19 Pandemic
The Government should make it mandatory for people to wear a face mask in
public given the rapidly spreading Covid-19 Pandemic.
It has been used as way to attempt to curb the spreading of Coronavirus in
China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and other countries. It is less-costly,
easy-handling and pragmatically meaningful to do as such in the United
This response was given on 8 September 2020
The Government has announced new rules on face coverings. Visitors to shops and supermarkets, as well as passengers on public transport and visitors to hospitals, will need to wear face coverings.
The Government continues to evolve advice on face coverings based on scientific advice. The evidence remains inconclusive around the widespread efficacy of using face coverings to protect individuals from COVID-19.
The Government has always been clear that its highest priority in managing this national crisis is protecting our public and our NHS.
Alongside rigorous and widespread testing, social distancing measures and regular communication with the public, we continue to prioritise provision of and appropriate guidance regarding Personal Protective Equipment and guidance on face coverings for the public.
Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) suggests that face coverings may help reduce the risk of transmission if someone is suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. This is why we have introduced them as a precautionary measure in places where social distancing measures are not always possible consistently.
Since 11 May, government guidance has advised the public to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, where they may come into contact with people they wouldn’t usually meet. The use of face has been required on public transport and in hospital settings in England from 15 June.
There is however stronger evidence to suggest that the measures in relations to social distancing, hand hygiene and isolation offer the best protection from the spread of the disease, and our advice on face coverings does not negate this. Though face coverings are more habitually and widely worn in public in some countries – such as China or Japan – the evidence remains inconclusive around its widespread efficacy in protecting individuals from COVID-19. The wearing of face coverings is an additional mitigation to be used alongside these other measures, and does not replace them.
As lockdown restrictions ease, we recognise that more people will now be coming into contact with others and there may be incidences where social distancing cannot be maintained consistently. The Government therefore announced on 14 July that face masks will become a mandatory requirement for customers in shops and supermarkets from 24 July.
We will continue to evolve our advice on face coverings to recognise this context, and continue to follow scientific advice.
Department for Health and Social Care
This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/304397)
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Original Government Response
The Government has recently updated its guidance to advise that all passengers on public transport, and those visiting hospitals must wear face coverings. We continue to follow the scientific advice.
The well-being and safety of the public is the Government’s primary concern.
Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) suggests that face coverings may help reduce the risk of transmission if someone is suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. However, the widespread use of masks in public is not yet supported by high quality scientific evidence.
Social distancing and hand hygiene remain the most important ways to guard against the virus, face coverings may help prevent individuals who have coronavirus but are not presenting symptoms from spreading it to others.
However, as lockdown restrictions ease, we recognise that more people will now be coming into contact with others and there may be incidences where social distancing cannot be maintained consistently. We have therefore continued to evolve our advice on face coverings to recognise this context.
The Government therefore made two announcements relating to the use of face coverings in specific situations last week. On 4 June the Transport Secretary announced that the Government will work with transport operators to make it mandatory for passengers to wear face coverings when using public transport in England from the 15th of June. On 5 June, the Health Secretary announced that all staff in hospitals in England will be provided with surgical masks which they must wear; and all hospital visitors and outpatients should wear face coverings, also from the 15th of June.
These face coverings can and should be made at home, using scarves or other textile items. We have published guidance to show people how to do this which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering. We urge the public not to purchase medical or surgical masks as these must be reserved for health and social care workers who face the greatest risk.
The Government continues to look to the scientific evidence and advice it is given to review and refine our advice, and our overall response to COVID-19.
Department for Health and Social Care
This response was given on 22 June 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.