Coronavirus UK: Doctors say masks should be mandatory inside and outside


Face masks should be made mandatory outdoors as well as indoors and in workplaces where social distancing cannot be practiced, top doctors have warned.

The British Medical Association suggests that those older than 60, or who are obese or have other health conditions making them vulnerable to coronavirus should be supplied with ‘medical grade’ masks, in line with WHO guidance.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, its chairman, said the Government’s measures to suppress Covid-19 are not working and called for further measures including a restriction of alcohol sales in England and a tightening of the Rule of Six to limit the number of households which can mingle to two.

He also warned the public is in danger of losing faith in existing restrictions, and urged for face masks to be worn outdoors where people cannot keep two metres apart — including in offices and other workplaces.

Face masks are already compulsory on public transport, railways stations and airports, shops, and cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants before being seated. 

The BMA boss told The Times: ‘It cannot be easy for the public to understand what will make a difference if they’re told to wear a mask in one setting, but then it’s not required in another.

‘It’s clear that most workplaces were never designed for people to work two metres apart. The rules should be absolutely that where you are likely to interact with one another within two metres, you wear a mask indoors.

The British Medical Association suggests that those older than 60, or who are obese or have other health conditions making them vulnerable to coronavirus should be supplied with ‘medical grade’ masks, in line with WHO guidance (pictured, commuters in Westminster)

Yesterday Britain recorded 13,864 coronavirus cases. There were 87 deaths recorded yesterday, though this is a fraction of the number of deaths recorded in April

Yesterday Britain recorded 13,864 coronavirus cases. There were 87 deaths recorded yesterday, though this is a fraction of the number of deaths recorded in April

‘In some settings, you will inevitably be in a situation where you’re meeting or mixing with others within that distance.’

Dr Nagpaul attacked Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick’s announcement that compulsory masks in offices ‘will be taken into consideration’, claiming: ‘You have got to more than consider — you have got to act now.’

The BMA is urging the Government to make masks free of charge to those who are exempt from prescription charges and also at the entrance of all public settings if a person has not brought one — at a nominal charge.

The medical body is also calling on the Government to modify the Rule of Six, which has been criticised as confusing by the public, so that only two households can meet ‘ideally outdoors, rather than indoors’.

Further financial support to businesses, retail and hospitality settings to enable them to make premises Covid-secure, the association added.

The BMA believes these additional measures pose a very low risk to the economy in the immediate term, despite overwhelming evidence that the Government’s ‘stay at home’ messaging wrecked Britain’s already wobbly economy.

Dr Nagpaul told the newspaper that imposing the ‘right safeguards’ now would minimise the risk of further lockdowns and significant economic disruption, amid reports that the Prime Minister will address the Commons on Monday about the proposed ‘Three Tier’ lockdown system.

He added that the NHS will be overwhelmed without the new measures, in an echo of fears in March and April which failed to materialise that the health system would be overrun by Covid patients.

In a statement, Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Simple effective rules and tighter restrictions are urgently needed to avoid communities suffering the paralysing impact of full local lockdowns and the impact that uncontrolled infections will have on our NHS.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, its chairman, said the Government's measures to suppress Covid-19 are not working and called for further measures including a restriction of alcohol sales in England and a tightening of the Rule of Six to limit the number of households which can mingle to two

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, its chairman, said the Government’s measures to suppress Covid-19 are not working and called for further measures including a restriction of alcohol sales in England and a tightening of the Rule of Six to limit the number of households which can mingle to two

‘With admissions to hospitals for Covid climbing rapidly in parts of England, there is an opportunity for the Westminster Government to bring in simple stronger restrictions alongside the introduction of its much trailed three-tiered approach.

‘The Government has a duty to regain the public’s confidence and faith in measures being taken to get the spread of the virus back under control. It must also provide the financial support businesses need to enable them to make premises and settings Covid secure while providing clear rules on what ‘Covid secure’ means.

‘We know that with the right public behaviour and renewed public confidence, the infection can be brought under control, given that we had less than 500 new cases a day in mid-July.

‘The infection has risen following rapid relaxation of measures and with the Westminster Government letting down its guard – as recently as August, the Government was encouraging people to travel, go to work and mix in restaurants and pubs. There was inconsistency in where and when to wear a face masks and how and when to mix socially.

Meanwhile, a Public Health England surveillance report published yesterday showed only three places across England have not recorded a rises in their per-person Covid-19 infection rates in the past week - Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Meanwhile, a Public Health England surveillance report published yesterday showed only three places across England have not recorded a rises in their per-person Covid-19 infection rates in the past week – Luton, Wolverhampton and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

 

Britain's coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen slightly, according to the Government's scientific advisers. They say the current R value - the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects - is between 1.2 and 1.5. This is down slightly on last week's range of 1.3 and 1.

Britain’s coronavirus reproduction rate has fallen slightly, according to the Government’s scientific advisers. They say the current R value – the number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is between 1.2 and 1.5. This is down slightly on last week’s range of 1.3 and 1.

‘We have drawn on a range of expertise from within the BMA to publish a set of recommendations which we feel, if introduced very quickly, could have a positive effect.

‘We are having to swallow a very bitter pill of the infection continuing to spread at a perilous rate. Stronger measures brought in now could be a far sweeter pill in the long run for far more people.’

If the BMA’s recommendations are adopted, Britain would follow Italy’s lead in making face masks and coverings compulsory in all outdoor settings.

The decree was approved at a cabinet meeting after a steady increase in cases over the last two months and came into effect on Thursday.

Several Italian regions including Lazio, around the capital Rome, had already made face masks mandatory.

Covid marshals armed with body cameras will be sent into pubs, weddings and parties to catch rule breakers under new government plan  

A snooper army of Covid marshals armed with body cameras will film evidence of breaches of coronavirus restrictions at weddings, parties, pubs and restaurants under new Government guidelines published this week. 

Boris Johnson’s derided marshals, dubbed ‘Covid Wombles’, will be expected to call police or council inspectors to enforce any breaches at premises they visit.

They will be given a checklist of coronavirus measures to ensure compliance in hospitality venues including pubs, bars, restaurants, takeaways and shops, as well as tourist attractions, ‘close contact services’ including hairdressers and nail bars, and ‘wedding receptions and celebrations’.

The guidance, published by Robert Jenrick’s Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, suggests the marshals should receive security training and could operate a yellow card system — where they issue two warnings before businesses face fines or closure.

In a move suggesting that there will be confrontations with unhappy members of the public, the guidance also suggests the marshals should be trained in ‘deescalation techniques’.

A snooper army of Covid marshals armed with body cameras will film evidence of breaches of coronavirus restrictions at weddings, parties, pubs and restaurants under new Government guidelines published this week (pictured, a marshal in Cornwall)

A snooper army of Covid marshals armed with body cameras will film evidence of breaches of coronavirus restrictions at weddings, parties, pubs and restaurants under new Government guidelines published this week (pictured, a marshal in Cornwall)

Boris Johnson's derided marshals, dubbed 'Covid Wombles', will be expected to call police or council inspectors to enforce any breaches at premises they visit. They will be given a checklist of coronavirus measures to ensure compliance in hospitality venues including pubs, bars, restaurants, takeaways and shops, as well as tourist attractions, 'close contact services' including hairdressers and nail bars, and 'wedding receptions and celebrations'

Boris Johnson’s derided marshals, dubbed ‘Covid Wombles’, will be expected to call police or council inspectors to enforce any breaches at premises they visit. They will be given a checklist of coronavirus measures to ensure compliance in hospitality venues including pubs, bars, restaurants, takeaways and shops, as well as tourist attractions, ‘close contact services’ including hairdressers and nail bars, and ‘wedding receptions and celebrations’

They will encourage social distancing and order members of the public to wear face masks. However, the guidance states their role is ‘not to enforce Covid-19 regulations’, but to ‘engage, explain and encourage best practice and national Covid-19-secure guidance’.

The Covid marshals, who were called ‘busybodies’ by lockdown sceptics when the Government announced the new position, will be expected to prevent mingling between groups in pubs and clubs, and on the streets after the 10pm curfew.

The guidance also states there will be two grades of Covid marshals — Type 2 marshals, which will have a ‘policing’-style role, and Type 1 marshals responsible for the more mundane tasks of directing pedestrians through one-way systems and handing out face coverings.

The Government has given councils £30million to recruit and train the Covid marshals, who should be issued with PPE, high-vis jackets and radio systems, the guidance adds.

The guidance, published by Robert Jenrick's Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, suggests the marshals should receive security training and could operate a yellow card system ¿ where they issue two warnings before businesses face fines or closure. In a move suggesting that there will be confrontations with unhappy members of the public, the guidance also suggests the marshals should be trained in 'deescalation techniques'

The guidance, published by Robert Jenrick’s Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, suggests the marshals should receive security training and could operate a yellow card system — where they issue two warnings before businesses face fines or closure. In a move suggesting that there will be confrontations with unhappy members of the public, the guidance also suggests the marshals should be trained in ‘deescalation techniques’

Marshals are already a presence on Cornwall’s streets, ensuring people are ‘respecting social distancing.’ They work alongside Cornwall Council’s public protection officers who have been giving support and advice to businesses on reopening safely in towns and villages across Cornwall.

One marshal called Dan said he has been enjoying providing reassurance to some of Camborne’s older residents and getting to know local businesses in the process.

‘So far, most visitors have been really co-operative and do their best to follow the guidelines and respect social distancing,’ he said.

‘I especially like helping reassure some of our older residents. I’ve got to know the local businesses and it’s great to know they’re all really keen to do what they can to make their customers and staff feel comfortable.’

Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for the economy, said: ‘The presence of these marshals and our public protection officers play a hugely valuable role in giving a bit of extra help where needed.

‘You can be assured that your safety is top-of-mind at all times, so do say a friendly ‘hi’ (dydh da) when you see them.’ 

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