Boris Johnson has said face coverings will be “useful” when lockdown restrictions are eased to “give people confidence they can go back to work”.

It comes two days after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there was only “weak science” supporting advice from the Scottish government that people should wear face coverings in shops and on public transport.

“I do think face coverings will be useful,” the prime minister said during the government’s daily briefing on the COVID-19 crisis.

“What I think Sage [the government’s scientific advisory group] is saying, what I certainly agree with, is that as part of coming out of the lockdown, I do think face coverings will be useful.

“Both for epidemiological reasons but, also, for giving people confidence that they can go back to work.

“You’re going to be hearing more about that and that kind of thing next week.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that cloth coverings should be used when social distancing was hard to maintain.

But asked later that day whether the recommendation was likely to be adopted across the UK, Mr Hancock said the government’s position had not changed and that there was “weak science” supporting the advice.

And the PM’s latest statement also appeared to contradict Professor Angela McLean’s comments at Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing.

She had said Sage found there was “weak evidence of a small effect in which a face mask can prevent a source of infection going from somebody who is infected to the people around them”.

“The answer is clear that the evidence is weak and the effect is small, and we have passed that on to our colleagues in government with which to make a decision,” she said.





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