Sadiq Khan says he might ‘unilaterally’ instruct Londoners to wear face masks
“Our capital’s diversity is our greatest strength, yet our statues, road names and public spaces reflect a bygone era,” said London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images)
Eastern Eye Staff
SADIQ KHAN has said he would “unilaterally” direct Londoners to cover their faces in public places if the government did not issue an advice to use masks.
The London mayor’s warning came hours after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday (27) urged people to wear face masks if they were in enclosed places such as public transport and shops, diverging from the official advice from Westminster.
She said that while the evidence was limited, wearing face coverings could help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus by those people who are not yet showing symptoms.
“We are recommending that you do wear a cloth face covering if you are in an enclosed space with others where social distancing is difficult, for example public transport or in a shop,” Sturgeon said.
In a Tweet on Tuesday (28), Khan reiterated his call to the UK government to “encourage people to wear non-medical face coverings when they can’t keep a safe distance from others”.
There, however, were reports that the government was hesitating to issue an advice regarding use of face masks, as its scientific advisers had found “weak evidence” that they would help contain the spread of coronavirus.
Khan told ITV that if the government did not make face covering mandatory “despite all our lobbying and the emerging scientific evidence the government doesn’t change its guidance, I may well decide unilaterally to instruct Londoners to do that”.
Khan had recently said in a letter to the government that “the evidence around the world” showed wearing face masks had been effective in curbing the spread of coronavirus.
“I’m lobbying our government and advisers to change their advice, and I want us to do that sooner rather than later,” he had said.
“This is consistent with the advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and with actions in other cities and countries around the world, many of whom have made wearing a face covering, especially when it is not possible to socially distance.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, meanwhile, maintained that “the government’s position has not changed, not least because the most important thing that people can do is social distancing as opposed to the weak science on face masks, so that is our absolute priority”.
However, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said “domestic efforts” were on to stockpile non-medical face masks to meet a surge in demand if there is a change in guidance on face covering.