Boris Johnson Tells Britons to Wear Face Coverings and Go Back to Work


U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should wear face coverings in shops and go back to work if they can, as he urged the country to try to resume normal life after lockdown.

Medical advice is moving in favor of wearing face coverings in all confined spaces, including on public transport and in stores, and the government was following this, he said.

As British authorities move to ease restrictions that have been in place since March, Johnson reinforced his message to the public to get back to work as he warned the economy may not rebound quickly. He’ll tell office workers next week to start returning to their desks, the Daily Mail reported.

“We should now say go back to work if you can,” Johnson said as he answered questions from the public in a social media broadcast Friday. “I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants, get back into work -- but only if we all follow the guidance.”

The prime minister was speaking after his government unveiled a 30 billion-pound ($38 billion) stimulus package designed to save jobs and boost consumer confidence so people spend money in shops and restaurants.

‘Tough Times’

Johnson said he hoped the economy will have “as V-shaped a recovery as possible, but we simply can’t be certain,” adding: “There will be tough times ahead.”

The premier also said data show the coronavirus outbreak “seems to be tapering off” in the U.K. and that he would not impose another nationwide lockdown “if we can possibly avoid it.” Local action is “much more effective” at tackling outbreaks, he said.

But that will depend on the public following official advice and taking precautions, including wearing face coverings more regularly, he said.

The government has faced criticism for not mandating the use of face coverings beyond public transport, and Johnson stopped short of doing so on Friday. But he said ministers are examining ways of ensuring people cover their faces while out shopping.

The “balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted” in favor of face coverings, he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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