REFUSING to wear a face mask when you’re out “is as bad as drink driving”, experts have claimed.
The president of the Royal Society has slammed the government for its confusing message on the use of face masks and coverings in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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People in the UK have been told to wear masks on pubic transport
People in the UK have been told to wear masks on pubic transport Credit: PA:Press Association
At present, people in the UK have been urged to wear a face mask or covering when using public transport.
This is while people have also been advised to wear masks when in supermarkets.
Venki Ramakrishnan said other countries have managed to implement the use of face masks into their daily lives so there was no reason why the UK should not have implemented a more stringent policy.
He said not wearing a mask should be seen as a social taboo and added that the message from the government had “not been clear enough”.
“Perhaps people do not really understand the benefits or are not convinced of them. Whatever the reasons, we need to overcome our reservations and wear face coverings whenever we are around others in public.
“It used to be quite normal to have quite a few drinks and drive home, and it also used to be normal to drive without seatbelts.
“Today, both of those would be considered antisocial, and not wearing face coverings in public should be regarded in the same way.”
He said the use of masks lowers the chance of future surge and lockdowns which are “economically and psychologically disruptive”.
His comments come after new research was released that detailed the effectiveness of the use of face masks and coverings.
One study, by the Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (DELVE) group said masks could reduce the risk of transmission and can also provide benefits to those who wear them.
If you’re in a crowded setting, you ought to wear a mask
Prof RamakrishnanRoyal Society
While another paper from the Royal Society’s Science in Emergencies Tasking Covid-19 group, highlighted how behind the UK was compared to other countries.
It claims that in April the uptake of people wearing a mask in the UK was 25 per cent.
It claimed that countries such as Italy had a 83.4 per cent uptick, while the US had 65.8 per cent and Spain had 63.8 per cent.
Prof Ramakrishnan said masks need to be treated like any other item of clothing and added that we need to get used to wearing them.
People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, walk in downtown Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 26
People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, walk in downtown Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 26Credit: AP:Associated Press
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “I think what we would like for the Government is to be a bit stronger and clearer about the messaging and require it whenever you are in crowded public spaces where you cannot get more than two metres away from the next person.
“If you’re in a crowded setting, you ought to wear a mask.”
He said “outdoors was less of a problem” for transmission and that mask-wearing was largely required in indoor settings.
Charities have also warned that there are exemptions to the rules and said that not everyone is physically able to wear a mask or covering.
People have been urged to wear face coverings on public transport but charities say this is not possible for everyone
People have been urged to wear face coverings on public transport but charities say this is not possible for everyoneCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Sarah MacFadyen, head of policy at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation said not all conditions are visible and added that people need to remember this when they see others not wearing coverings.
“While we all need to be taking precautions and that includes wearing face coverings where advised, we MUST NOT stigmatise people with respiratory conditions who are already very worried about the risk that Covid-19 poses to them and may be venturing outside this week for the first time in months.
“Since the rules around wearing face coverings on public transport have been brought in, we have heard from people across the UK who have been publicly confronted by strangers, leaving them feeling anxious and humiliated.”
Many businesses that reopened this weekend made sure their staff were wearing face mask and in some circumstances even visors.
Face masks have been a hotly debated topic during the coronavirus pandemic as many people have questioned how important they are in preventing infection.
People in the UK have been advised not to purchase surgical coverings due to a shortage or personal protective equipment for NHS workers.