The UK government is coming under intense pressure to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in shops and other enclosed public places in England, but if that happens, it would be the wrong move.
And so it goes on. Even though deaths with COVID have dropped sharply, even though the virus has clearly petered out in Britain, even though there’s been an official acknowledgement that some 30,000 ‘positive‘ test results have been double-counted, the clamour for more ‘New Abnormal’ measures to be introduced grows by the day.
The ‘big’ thing this week is to try and make the wearing of face masks compulsory.
In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that despite there having been no COVID deaths for several days north of the border, her government would be making the wearing of masks in shops in Scotland compulsory from the 10th July. Anyone not complying could face a fine of £60.
Sturgeon’s ‘safety first’ approach has been lauded by her supporters but is it the right one?
The onus is surely on those who want to introduce such illiberal measures to prove that they are necessary. I don’t believe the advocates of mandatory mask-wearing have done that.
Follow the Science?
In March, Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said wearing masks could actually put people more at risk.
“Tell me about the value of wearing face-masks, is there any point to that,” Dr Harries was asked by PM Boris Johnson.
She replied: “If a healthcare professional hasn’t advised you to wear a face mask, it’s usually quite a bad idea. People tend to leave them on, they contaminate the face mask and then wipe it over something, so it’s really not a good idea and doesn’t help.”
Even the UK government’s own website on Coronavirus states:
“Evidence suggests that wearing a face-covering does not protect you.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in April ‘there is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19’.