Workers will NOT have to wear masks in offices, Matt Hancock says ahead of Boris’ back-to-work blueprint
WEARING facemasks in offices has been ruled out today as Boris Johnson prepares to unveil Britain’s back to work blueprint.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today insisted Brits will not be forced to use face coverings but insisted they do make a difference.
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Appearing on Sky News, Mr Hancock was asked about masks in offices after Blackburn recommended them following a spike in cases.
He said: “We will not be recommending masks in the office but I respect what Blackburn has done.
“Blackburn has taken action locally because their rates of positive cases have gone up.
“The council in Blackburn are doing a fantastic job”.
It comes as:
- Boris was set to unveil his blueprint for workers going back to the office
- A cabinet source warned Brits could wear face masks in shops until 2021 with coverings becoming the “new normal” unless a covid-19 vaccine is found
- Rishi Sunak ordered a review of capital gains tax as the Treasury looks for ways to plug the £300bn coronavirus black hole
- China hit out at the UK’s “wrong” decision to ban Huawei from its 5G network
People could also be banned from entering shops if they do not have a mask.
Mr Hancock hailed the move as a “good step forward”.
He said: “It’s all part of the overall programme to keep transmission of the virus down.
“There are more asymptomatic transmissions than anyone thought of.
“On masks it’s a balanced decision, but there is benefit to having a mask, especially a benefit to other people.”
He also explained Brits will need to wear a face mask in coffee shops such as Pret, explaining if there was no table service then it was a shop.
His comments come just one day on from the Environment Secretary refusing to rule out making masks mandatory in offices.
George Eustice told BBC Radio 4: “At the moment we take one step at a time and we’ve taken the view in this next step that we should make it mandatory in retail environments.
“When it comes to workplace environments, because people are in the same company throughout the day, there are not lots of people coming through the venue as you have in a retail environment.”
Boris will unveil his blueprint for getting workers back in the office within days amid fears the Government’s work from home policy is crippling the economy.
The PM has told Cabinet ministers to order civil servants in their departments to start returning to the office.
He told Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that tens of thousands of Whitehall civil servants should “set an example” by coming back to the office after four months working from home.
A government source said: “He was encouraging Secretaries of State to show a lead and encourage their officials back to work.”
The PM fears strict social distancing rules will leave millions of workers at the UK’s biggest firms at home for the foreseeable future as companies take advantage of cutting office costs and staff are too afraid to return.
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