Matt Hancock: "face coverings increase confidence in people to shop"

14 July 2020

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary updated the House on the Government's response to coronavirus. He also announced that face coverings in public will be mandatory from 24 July and people who fail to comply may be refused entry to shops and could face a fine of up to £100.

Matt Hancock: we "must remain vigilant to keep this virus under control"

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock told the House :

"Yesterday's figures show 530 new cases, down 90% since the peak.

"162 patients are currently in mechanical ventilator beds, down around 95% since the peak.

"The latest number of deaths recorded in all settings across the UK is 11, the lowest figure since the 13 March.."

He said "we cannot let our progress today lead to complacency tomorrow" and that we "must remain vigilant to keep this virus under control".  

Mr Hancock told MPs that the Government's strategy is to protect the NHS, get the virus down and keep the virus down while restoring as much of normal life as possible."

He went on to say that the Government's tactic to achieve their strategy is "to replace national lockdown with ever more local action".

On the NHS Test and Trace system the Health Secretary said the system is getting stronger and since launching 6 weeks ago "144,000 people have now been asked to self-isolate who otherwise simply wouldn't have known that they had to."

Local action is taken when clusters or outbreaks have been identified, he told MPs. These outbreaks have mostly been small but the Government is prepared to take action  on a wider basis, as they did with Leicester.

He told the House that Leicester now has the highest rate of testing in the country and a process has been established for making decisions to lift the lockdown in Leicester, with the first decision point "later this week".

Face coverings in shops

The Health Secretary said that local action are one way of  controlling the spread of the virus and another is to minimise the risk as we return to normality.

The Government have announced that face coverings will be mandatory from 24 July when shopping, this is to protect those who work in shops and to give people more confidence to shop safely.

Those who do not wear a face covering in shops will face a fine of up to £100. The shop can also refuse entry to someone not wearing  a face covering and can call the police if someone fails to comply.

Mr Hancock expanded saying "face coverings increase confidence in people to shop".

He also said that "sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disspraprtionately in this crisis. The death rate of saels and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population".

Jonathan Ashworth: "this Government appears to be in the slow lane"

Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth responded to Matt Hancock's statement saying "we've long known about air bourne transmission via aerosols, he's long warned about asymptomatic transmission. The Royal Society, the World Health Organisation has long recommended wearing face masks" amongst many other organisations.

Jonathan asked why it has taken two months for him to make this advice mandatory and why it would take another 11 days for the measure to come in.

He scrutinised the Government by saying "this Government appears to be in the slow lane".

He went on to ask about workers returning to offices.

He also asked about Leicester's lockdown and what metrics will be used to make the decision to ease out of the local lockdown and how it will be communicated.

Mr Ashworth called on the Government to "instruct the Health and Safety Executive to inspect all factories, all meat-packing plants, all distribution centres and all large employment sites as a matter of urgency".

On the Test and Trace system, the Shadow Health Secretary told the House that authorities need data from the system daily. The data also needs to include more such as "person identifiable data", "negative results" and "contact tracing data".

He also asked Matt Hancock to itemise the extra £10 billion allocated to the Test and Trace system.

He asked the Health Secretary to "ensure the NHS and social care sector gets the winter funding it needs to prepare for a second wave".

Image: Creative Commons

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