Friday, 16 Apr 2021

Lockdown POLL: Should people be made to wear masks outside?

UK lockdown: Police officer calls on public to ‘do their bit’

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned stricter measures to help curb the new variant, which is rapidly spreading across the UK, could soon be brought in. He hinted Britons could be made to wear masks outside as there is a “risk” of covid in crowded outdoor environments such as queues. He told Radio 4: “If people for example are crowded together in a queue outdoors, if they’re really huddled together round a market stall or something – that is a risk with this virus – and in that situation, there might be some logic to people thinking about wearing masks.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in the capital last week, while also calling for face masks to be worn outside.

He said: “We’re at risk of NHS hospitals running out of beds in the next couple of weeks if the virus continues to spread and people continue to be hospitalised

“You’ll be aware that across the country on average one of 50 people have this virus.

“In London, on average, it’s one out of 30. In parts of London it’s one out of 20.”

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London’s Borough Market also became the first outdoor space in the UK to legally enforce face masks being worn in the public space, as it has its own set of bylaws passed in Parliament.

Customers and vendors who do not wear a face covering could be slapped with a £50 fine.

Kate Howell, director of development at the central London venue, said: “I think we just have to be responsible.

“We’re open as an essential retailer but we want to keep it safe for everybody.

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“While we’ve done everything we can to politely encourage people to wear masks and keep to social distancing and keep the space safe, now is the time to really show our intent.

“We’ve got to a stage where we feel as responsible landlords that, actually given we do have these bylaws, in our reckoning that we’re able to say, ‘We’re going to make this mandatory.”

But if this does not help tackle rising cases, is asking whether Mr Johnson should introduce a 6pm curfew like in France?

Rather than imposing another full lockdown in France to tackle the new variant, cities such as Marseille, Strasbourg and Dijon have had a curfew put forward to 6pm from 8pm, running through to 6am the following morning.

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These regions were hit with the biggest surges in the new variant of the virus, as the country has now recorded at least 67,000 deaths and 2.7 million cases.

However, the French Government has said it will not rule out stricter measures if the Covid situation worsens in the European country.

Research carried out in France claimed curfews could be more effective than full lockdowns to help tackle the virus among older people.

On October 17 last year, 16 of France’s regions were put under curfew from 9pm to 6am.

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The next week, more than half the country was under mandatory curfew, before a nation-wide lockdown was brought in on October 30.

The researchers found that the curfew helped reduce the spread of the pandemic, mostly for people who were 60 and older.

For people younger than 60, it was the lockdown that did more to help curb the spread.

Patrick Pintus, an economics professor at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, who was one of the researchers, acknowledged this was not a controlled experiment, said: “But what we found was that, especially the first week of the curfew, did seem to have an effect in terms of curbing the pandemic in the sense [of] reducing the acceleration.

“Our interpretation is that it’s probably due to the fact that because of the curfew, there were much less interactions between that age group in bars, in the restaurants.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock ruled out changing some new measures in the UK, such as the support bubble system.

Support and childcare bubbles allow adults living alone or single parents living with children under the age of 18 to join up with one other household.

Introduced in June, the system allowed people in one bubble to visit each other indoors, ignore the two-metre rule and stay overnight, as if they were all living under the same roof.

It means elderly people living alone can bubble up with an adult son or daughter, also allowing them to spend time with any grandchildren in the home and share childcare responsibilities.

It was initially thought support bubbles could be scrapped following Mr Zahawi saying that all measures are under review.

But speaking at a Downing Street press briefing on Monday afternoon, Mr Hancock said he wanted to be “crystal clear” that the policy would remain.

He said: “I can rule out removing the bubbles that we have in place – the childcare bubbles (and) the support bubbles are very important and we’re going to keep them.

“I know how important they are to people and they are an important part of the system that we have got to support people whilst also having these tough measures that are necessary.”

Mr Hancock also warned the public to stick with the people they chose to form a bubble with.

“The bubbles are there for individual, specific people – so if you have bubbled with somebody, that is the person you have bubbled with.”

But do you think coronavirus support bubbles should be scrapped?

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