Govt Scientific Advisors Call for Mask-Wearing Outside

A sign informs people that it is mandatory to wear face masks at Borough Market in London on January 12, 2021. - Borough market, an open-air market popular with tourists and Londoners alike, has required customers and stall-holders to wear masks since January 11 as a measure to keep the …
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

The influential Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) has endorsed a report telling government ministers to consider mandating mask-wearing in busy outdoor settings such as markets, playgrounds, and parks.

The paper by SAGE’s Environmental Modelling Group added that there was a contagion risk in other “semi-enclosed spaces” such as at bus stops. It also recommended that masks be worn in the corridors and communal areas of workplaces.

Currently, the coronavirus laws only require people to wear masks in indoor settings such as supermarkets — both staff and customers — and public transport. However, due to its own powers to set bylaws, London’s Borough Market became the first outside space in the UK to mandate mask-wearing last month.

“Consideration should be given to using face coverings in a wider range of settings where people could be asymptomatic and may be in close proximity (less than two metres). This may include outdoor spaces where it is difficult to maintain distance and people may be close together for extended periods,” the report said, according to The Telegraph.

The United Kingdom’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said in January that people should be wearing masks if they are in outdoor queues or “huddled together” at a market stall.

In December, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam suggested that wearing masks could become habits that Britons keep “for many years”.

He added that coronavirus would be with mankind “forever”, and that “we may get to a point where coronavirus becomes a seasonal problem” that people will have to learn to live with.

Another recent SAGE paper claims that social distancing may need to be in place for much of 2021 unless vaccines are at least 85 per cent effective at stopping transmission of the Chinese virus.

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that in the next four weeks, the government should have enough data to see the impact of Britain’s vaccination programme on transmission, serious infection, and hospitalisation.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government has been sending out mixed messages of the likely end of lockdown, last week reports claimed his administration is preparing a “roadmap” to societal recovery from next month.

Sources told the media that Johnson is working on a “three-stage plan” to ease England out of lockdown, starting with opening schools culminating in hospitality venues reopening in May.

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