Politics

Boris Johnson urges Brits to go back to work in shock U-turn on policy

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Boris Johnson said people should “try to lead their lives more normally” as restrictions are eased after months of lockdown. And he hinted that stricter rules on wearing face coverings in public places may be introduced in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In an online question and answer session with the public, Mr Johnson said: “I want people to go back to work as carefully as possible. It’s very important that people should be going back to work if they can now.

“I think everybody has sort of taken the ‘stay at home if you can’ – I think we should now say, well, ‘go back to work if you can’. Because I think it’s very important that people should try to lead their lives more normally.

“I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants, and get back into work – but only if we all follow the guidance.”

He later added that people should only return if their company is obeying the guidelines and it is safe to do so.

The PM said that as the number of coronavirus cases falls, the rules on wearing face coverings need to be “stricter”.

“I do think we need to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don’t normally meet,” he said.

“We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops, for instance, where there is a risk of transmission.”

Face coverings are currently compulsory on public transport and in hospitals in England, but are only advised in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and where “you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet”.

It comes as Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said she wears a mask “all the time” as the Government came under pressure to answer why more senior figures had not been pictured wearing face coverings.

Questions were raised on social media this week about why Chancellor Rishi Sunak, following his summer economic statement, was pictured serving food to customers at a Wagamama restaurant in central London without a face covering.

Government recommendations as part of the “one metre-plus” guidance are that measures such as wearing a mask should be taken if people indoors cannot keep two metres away from each other.

There have also been no public sightings of Mr Johnson wearing a mask.

Ms Dinenage, when asked if she had worn a covering since the coronavirus pandemic started, said she regularly wore face masks made by her son and that she had posted an image of herself wearing it on social media.

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To mark face masks being made mandatory on public transport last month, the Tory MP tweeted a picture of herself on June 5 while wearing a cloth covering.

Ms Dinenage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I wear mine all the time.

“I have a fashion design student as a son who has run me up a few on his sewing machine and I wear them all the time.

“A lot of us are out there wearing them as we go about our daily lives.”

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