No plans for face coverings in offices, says Hancock

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The government has no plans to force office workers to wear face coverings, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock denied claims that the government was considering making face coverings mandatory in office environments after Downing Street said the use of masks in settings other than shops was under review.

He told Sky News this morning: “We will not be recommending masks in the office.”

Asked to clear up confusion around who should be wearing face coverings, Hancock reiterated plans to make mask-wearing mandatory in shops from 24 July, but said they were not necessary in settings where there needs to be table service, such as a restaurant.

He said people would have to wear masks in shops, on public transport and in the NHS for the “foreseeable future”.

However, retail staff would not be required to wear face coverings when the new measure is introduced for shoppers next week, environment secretary George Eustice said yesterday.

Asked if the rules will apply to retail employees, he said: “They’re not being covered by this.

“But I think if you go into most shops you will see that staff for a longer time now have either been wearing face shields or face masks.

“It won’t be a compulsory requirement because it won’t always be right for every setting in a retail environment, particularly those working behind the tills [where there are plastic screens] and so on.”

Eustice said office workers would not need to wear masks at the moment because the risk of Covid-19 transmission was lower in office settings than 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; the risk of transmission is therefore lower,” he said.

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