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Mask-wearing enforced as local lockdowns spread

Friday July 24th 2020

Tough rules on face-mask wearing come into force today in England – with final details only released yesterday morning.

The government took action as the World Health Organisation urged the public globally to "make good choices."

In the UK several towns were facing new lockdowns as districts in the Midlands and the North saw increases in infection numbers. Globally, deaths in the USA reached their highest level in two months, passing 1,000 a day, as states such as Texas and Florida felt the impact of high infection rates.

WHO Director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "We’re asking everyone to treat the decisions about where they go, what they do and who they meet with as life-and-death decisions – because they are.

"It may not be your life, but your choices could be the difference between life and death for someone you love, or for a complete stranger. In recent weeks we have seen outbreaks associated with nightclubs and other social gatherings, even in places where transmission had been suppressed.

"We must remember that most people are still susceptible to this virus. As long as it’s circulating, everyone is at risk. Just because cases might be at a low level where you live, that doesn’t make it safe to let down your guard."

In the UK health secretary Matt Hancock said the rules on masks were the "next part in easing restrictions."

Those who break the new rules on masks can be fined £100. Masks have to be worn in shops, supermarkets, banks, post offices and in indoor train and bus stations.

Takeaway customers will also be required to wear masks - but not those enjoying a sit-down meal in restaurants.

The British Medical Association queried the exclusion of theatres and museums from the list.

Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “In the 10 days since this rule change was announced, we’ve seen confusion, mixed messaging and U-turns from the Government about how it would apply, leaving it until the last minute to issue any meaningful guidance.

“So, while today’s guidance is in some ways helpful, the uncertainty of recent weeks has done nothing to inspire public confidence.

“Meanwhile, if venues such as theatres, museums and salons are not subject to these rules, there must be an absolute assurance that they can protect the public by enforcing physical distancing or putting other mitigating measures in place such as the installation of screens – and the Government must support them in this."

Tags: Flu & Viruses | North America | UK News | World Health

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