People will be “encouraged” to wear face coverings to grab a drink or food from coffee shops, a Cabinet minister said today after confusion in government over the policy.
In the last 24 hours, the Government has given varying messages on whether a mask is needed when collecting orders.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said today it would not be mandatory to don a mask in such outlets, as it will be in other shops from July 24.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock had said yesterday that people buying coffee to take out would have to wear a face covering, but not if they were sitting inside. No 10 later said face coverings would not be mandatory in order to get a takeaway at sandwich shops.
Mr Sharma told Sky News this morning: “We are encouraging people to wear face coverings when they are going into a cafe or a food-to-go establishment and they are not going to be sitting down and having a meal” but they would not be mandatory.
Meanwhile, Michael Gove wore a face covering to pick up a coffee this morning. Earlier this week the Cabinet minister was pictured not wearing a mask at a Pret store near Parliament, having previously said it was “basic good manners to wear a face mask if you are in a shop”. Today he wore a mask with an NHS logo as he got his coffee and sandwich from another Westminster cafe.
On Sunday Mr Gove said he opposed making face coverings mandatory in shops, but the following day Boris Johnson signalled that this would happen.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak wore a mask yesterday at the same Pret that Mr Gove had visited maskless. His appeared to have a relief valve, which stops glasses steaming up by allowing breath to be expelled easily, prompting critics to say such masks don’t protect people nearby. An aide to the Chancellor said his mask had a filter which made it safe.
Sky presenter Kay Burley this morning challenged Mr Sharma and asked if Mr Hancock “was wrong” for saying masks were required in coffee shops.
Mr Sharma said: “The Heath Secretary said yesterday that you are not required to wear one if you are sitting down and having a meal.”
Burley replied: “That’s not what I said. I said if I nip in and get a sandwich and a takeaway coffee do I need to wear a mask, and you said ‘no I don’t’.”
Mr Shama said that it is “recommended” and added: “I hope I have provided the clarification at this juncture.”
Questioning the Minister for the third time, the presenter continued: “I don’t think you have so let’s just go for it once more.
“So the Health Secretary says I do need to wear it, Number 10 says I don’t – give me the definitive.”
Mr Sharma said: “The definitive is it is encouraged for you to do so.”
Responding to a question on whether it is a legal requirement to wear one, he added: “If you are going into a shop or supermarket from the July 24 it is mandatory.”
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