British minister dismisses London mayor's call for people to wear masks
LONDON (BLOOMBERG) – Britain’s Transport Minister Grant Shapps resisted calls from London Mayor Sadiq Khan for the British public to wear more masks to protect against the coronavirus.
“I don’t want to take masks away from the front line,” Mr Shapps said on Friday (April 17) on LBC radio.
Now is “not the right moment” to instruct people to wear them, and the government will let its scientific advisers guide it on whether masks might be appropriate in the future, he said.
Mr Khan said Britain’s reluctance to instruct the public to wear masks makes it an “outlier” internationally.
Citing advice from scientific experts in countries such as theUnited States and Canada, Mr Khan told BBC radio on Friday that people should wear non-medical facial coverings such as scarves and bandannas when social-distancing measures are impossible.
The government’s chief medical officer, Mr Chris Whitty, said that masks are a “live issue” but called the evidence so far about their effectiveness “weak” in a televised press conference on Thursday.