Justice secretary says face coverings could be made mandatory in UK shops
Should it be mandatory for people to wear face coverings in shops across the UK?
In Scotland, it is the law for shoppers to wear face coverings when they reopen today. But the governments in England and Wales have stopped short of making it mandatory and the messaging from Westminster has been unclear in recent days.
Boris Johnson said on Friday that ministers were “looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings, in shops, for example” and that “we need to be stricter about insisting people wear face coverings in confined places where they are meeting people they don’t normally meet”.
But on Sunday, Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, said it would not be made mandatory in England and that the government would “trust people’s good sense”.
Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, said this morning they should be made “mandatory perhaps” if people are not wearing face coverings inside shops out of choice.
“[Gove] took the view as he was answering the question that we should encourage good sense – I agree with that. If it becomes necessary to nudge people further by taking further action then of course we will consider that.
“We’ve done it on public transport where people have to be together with each other perhaps for hours at a time. We follow the evidence and take considered decisions. I think the matter is under careful and daily review.”
Asked on BBC Breakfast about his own mask-wearing habits, Buckland said he carries one with him all the time:
“I think outside is one thing, with social distancing, but a small shop I think is a very sensible place to wear a covering, and it protects people working in the shop, and also anybody else who you might come into contact with.
“I think a mask is just an additional helpful mitigation that isn’t just an act of courtesy. I think it’s an act of increasing safety and public confidence.”
Asked if he would wear one in a supermarket, he said:
“I think, carrying one with me and wearing one into a supermarket is a good idea and I think, frankly, the best thing to do is to carry on wearing it. I think if the supermarket is very busy then wearing it is absolutely sensible. I think people can be trusted to have the good sense to make the judgment call.”
The continuing city-wide lockdown of Leicester is “not justified”, its mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, has said, after he was provided with government data that apparently shows the outbreak is only in a “couple of areas of the city”.
Soulsby told BBC Breakfast that, having “finally” been provided with “useful data”, they know that around 10% of the city has recorded a higher transmission of the virus.
“If we had known that weeks ago we could’ve actually dealt with it at that time and prevented this lockdown.
It’s very clear when you look at the data that it’s a couple of areas of the city that have got a higher than the average transmission of the virus, and certainly the way in which the city has been locked down in its entirety, and indeed beyond our boundary, is not justified.”
Soulsby criticised the government for not passing on this data “many, many weeks ago”, adding that even now the information being provided to his health officials was incomplete and out of date.
“I mean even the data we’re getting now is the best part of two weeks out of date, and we need to be knowing, on a day-by-day basis street-by-street basis, what that data is telling us and then we can tell whether or not, in those particular neighbourhoods, we’re actually combating the virus effectively.
“We need to know the ethnicity of the people who are being tested, we need to know where they are working. There’s been all this talk about perhaps it’s passed on in factories, but we have no way of knowing that.”
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, is due to announce later this week whether Leicester’s extended lockdown will continue beyond this weekend, with many of the city’s restaurants and hair salons not expecting to reopen until August.
Justice secretary cites ‘appalling litany of abuse’ in Leicester garment factories
The justice secretary, Robert Buckland, has said he welcomes the National Crime Agency investigation into alleged worker exploitation in Leicester, where there are concerns that conditions inside some of the city’s sweatshops were factor in the local surge in coronavirus cases.
Buckland told Sky News:
“A light has now been shone on an appalling litany of abuse and I’m glad to hear that the National Crime Agency (NCA) is now conducting an investigation, its got a lot of power to bring in various agencies to start the work of an investigation into this.”
Some will dispute Buckland’s suggestion that only now has a light been shone on the scandal, as concerns have been raised publicly about Leicester for years including in parliamentary reports, by regulators and in media coverage.
Buckland said modern-day slavery was “all around us. It’s in every town and city in Britain and indeed in our rural areas as well,” and that authorities would “do everything we can to stamp it out”.
“This is not a job that’s going to take weeks, it’s going to take a long time but I welcome the investigation,” he added.
Lockdown eases across UK
There is a further easing of the lockdown in parts of the UK today.
In Scotland, non-essential shops inside shopping malls will reopen this morning – with a new law making it compulsory to wear face-coverings inside them.
Children and young people in Scotland are allowed to play organised outdoor sport from today. Dentists and optometrists will be able to offer some services.
In Wales, pubs, bars and restaurants can start serving customers outdoors, while hairdressers can also reopen. People will be able to exercise in groups, with up to 30 people being allowed to play sport outside at once.
In England, beauty salons, spas, tattoo parlours and nail bars are welcoming back their first clients for almost four months – but some treatments, such as eyebrow threading, are still banned, leaving many salons unable to reopen.
Planning a trip to a beer garden in Wales? Or heading for an outdoor game of meticulously-organised squash after heading to a shopping mall in Scotland?
Let us know if you’re planning to enjoy your newfound freedoms. Comment below or contact me directly on Twitter – @JoshHalliday – or email: [email protected] I also welcome news tips and suggestions of areas we should be investigating!
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s UK liveblog.
Public health officials are taking action to suppress more than 100 coronavirus outbreaks across the UK each week, the health secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Writing in the Telegraph, Hancock said officials were finding more coronavirus cases due to the increased testing. He added:
“The result is we can lift more of the lockdown, and take targeted action. Each week there are over a hundred local actions taken across the country – some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with.
“This is thanks in large part of the incredible efforts of local authorities – all of whom have stepped up and published their local outbreak control plans in line with the end of June deadline.”
His comments came after 73 workers at a farm in Herefordshire tested positive for Covid-19.
About 200 workers at the vegetable farm and packing business, which supplies Sainsbury’s, Asda, M&S and Aldi, have been ordered to isolate on the property following the outbreak.
Later today, the home secretary, Priti Patel, will unveil further details on the future of immigration in the UK from 1 January 2021, when the UK leaves the European Union single market and customs union.
Under the system, UK borders will be closed to so-called non-skilled workers and applicants will be have to show a greater understanding of English.
Applicants must also have a job offer with a minimum salary of £25,600 a year, with a few exceptions. But the most significant change is the end of freedom of movement for EU nationals, who will be treated equally to arrivals from outside the bloc.
Citizens and companies will also be told to expect significant and costly changes to travel in Europe from 1 January, with warnings about passports, travel insurance, mobile data charges and travelling with pets.
It comes as company directors said only one in four businesses were prepared for Britain’s full departure from the European Union in five months’ time.