REFUSING to wear a face mask when you’re out “is as bad as drink driving”, experts have claimed.
The president of the Royal Society has slammed the government for its confusing message on the use of face masks and coverings in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
At present, people in the UK have been urged to wear a face mask or covering when using public transport.
This is while people have also been advised to wear masks when in supermarkets.
Venki Ramakrishnan said other countries have managed to implement the use of face masks into their daily lives so there was no reason why the UK should not have implemented a more stringent policy.
He said not wearing a mask should be seen as a social taboo and added that the message from the government had “not been clear enough”.
“Perhaps people do not really understand the benefits or are not convinced of them. Whatever the reasons, we need to overcome our reservations and wear face coverings whenever we are around others in public.
“It used to be quite normal to have quite a few drinks and drive home, and it also used to be normal to drive without seatbelts.
“Today, both of those would be considered antisocial, and not wearing face coverings in public should be regarded in the same way.”
He said the use of masks lowers the chance of future surge and lockdowns which are “economically and psychologically disruptive”.
His comments come after new research was released that detailed the effectiveness of the use of face masks and coverings.
One study, by the Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (DELVE) group said masks could reduce the risk of transmission and can also provide benefits to those who wear them.
If you’re in a crowded setting, you ought to wear a mask
While another paper from the Royal Society’s Science in Emergencies Tasking Covid-19 group, highlighted how behind the UK was compared to other countries.
It claims that in April the uptake of people wearing a mask in the UK was 25 per cent.
It claimed that countries such as Italy had a 83.4 per cent uptick, while the US had 65.8 per cent and Spain had 63.8 per cent.
Prof Ramakrishnan said masks need to be treated like any other item of clothing and added that we need to get used to wearing them.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “I think what we would like for the Government is to be a bit stronger and clearer about the messaging and require it whenever you are in crowded public spaces where you cannot get more than two metres away from the next person.
“If you’re in a crowded setting, you ought to wear a mask.”
He said “outdoors was less of a problem” for transmission and that mask-wearing was largely required in indoor settings.
Many businesses that reopened this weekend made sure their staff were wearing face mask and in some circumstances even visors.
Face masks have been a hotly debated topic during the coronavirus pandemic as many people have questioned how important they are in preventing infection.
People in the UK have been advised not to purchase surgical coverings due to a shortage or personal protective equipment for NHS workers.
The government previously released guides on how to make coverings at home from old t-shirts.
Downing Street today stressed the need for people to wear face coverings properly, covering both the nose and mouth and a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said a wider roll out is “always under review”
“We have been very clear about the benefits of people wearing face coverings.
“Face coverings can help us protect others and reduce the spread of the virus if people are infected but not showing symptoms.”
Highlighting the correct way to wear a mask they added: “Covid-19 is a respiratory disease. If someone has the virus, droplets can leave the nose and month and infect others when someone breathes, speaks, sneezes, laughs or coughs.
“Therefore, a face covering should cover both the nose and mouth to reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets, helping to protect others.”