Boris Johnson urges Britons: “Go back to work if you can” Face coverings may be mandatory in shops

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LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged Britons to go back to work if they can, in a significant shift from the Government’s policy of telling people to work from home. He said people should “try to lead their lives more normally” as restrictions are eased after months of lockdown.

He hinted that stricter rules on wearing face coverings in public places may be introduced in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In an online question and answer session with the public, Mr Johnson said: “I want people to go back to work as carefully as possible. It’s very important that people should be going back to work if they can now.

Boris Johnson

“I think everybody has sort of taken the ‘stay at home if you can’ – I think we should now say, well, ‘go back to work if you can’. Because I think it’s very important that people should try to lead their lives more normally. I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants, and get back into work – but only if we all follow the guidance.”

He later added that people should only return if their company is obeying the guidelines and it is safe to do so.

Face covering

The PM said that as the number of coronavirus cases falls, the rules on wearing face coverings need to be stricter. “I do think we need to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don’t normally meet,” he said. “We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops, for instance, where there is a risk of transmission.”

Face coverings are currently compulsory on public transport and in hospitals in England, but are only advised in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and where “you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet”.

Mr Johnson was pictured wearing a face covering for the first time during the pandemic while visiting businesses in his Uxbridge constituency on Friday.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to be “stricter” on insisting people wear mouth and nose coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they do not normally see.

Downing Street is understood to be looking at the issue, amid suggestions new rules could be introduced within a few weeks.

Face coverings are currently compulsory on public transport and in hospitals in England, but are only advised in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and where “you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet”.