BUSINESS Secretary Alok Sharma has added more confusion to the Government’s mask policy after people are told they don’t have to wear one in cafes – but are encouraged to.
Mr Sharma’s comments come as No10 and the Health Secretary scrambled to come up with a coherent policy on masks yesterday, both putting out different statements on the rules.
Kay Burley pushed Mr Sharma to clarify the rules after yesterday’s confusion.
She asked Mr Sharma: “Once and for all, if I go into Pret a week on Firday and I’m picking up a butty or a takeaway coffee, do I need to wear a mask or not?”
Mr Sharma said: “It will not be compulsory, but we would encourage it.”
But when pushed over whether Matt Hancock was wrong when he said masks would be compulsory, Mr Sharma said: “The Health Secretary yesterday said you’re not required to wear one if you’re sitting down and having a meal.”
Kay said: “But 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?”
Mr Sharma said it was not compulsory but recommended and he hoped he had “provided clarification at this juncture.”
But Mr Hancock told Sky News yesterday: “You do need to wear a face mask in Pret because Pret is a shop – in hospitality, there needs to be table service.
“If there’s table service, it is not necessary to have a mask. But in any shop, you do need the mask.
“So, if you’re going up to the counter in Pret to buy takeaway that is a shop, but if you go to your local pub you can’t go to the bar.”
“The reason is because of the risk of transmission over the bar.”
Only hours later, No10 came out saying people did not have to wear face masks in Pret after Michael Gove was pictured in Pret not wearing a mask.
Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss wore masks when they popped in to get lunch at Pret in Westminster.
The Department of Health later said Mr Hancock stood by his comments and masks should be worn in cafes when picking up takeaway food.
The new rules will make face masks compulsory from July 24 in England and people will face a £100 fine if they fail to comply.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted yesterday: “This is frankly ridiculous. The virus doesn’t know if you’re in a take-away or a supermarket.
“The Government is risking the health of the public to cover the back of a Cabinet Minister. Please wear a face covering in all shops and take aways.”