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Last Updated on July 12, 2020 by

Clearer message needed on face masks

A behavioural expert who advises the Government has said messaging around face coverings should be “clear, coherent, consistent” after a senior minister said they would not be made compulsory in shops.

On Sunday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said that face coverings should not be made mandatory in shops but should be worn out of courtesy and consideration for others.

Mr Gove told the BBC: “I would encourage people to wear face masks when they are inside, in an environment where they are likely to be mixing with others and where the ventilation may not be as good as it might.

“I think that it is basic good manners, courtesy and consideration, to wear a face mask if you are, for example, in a shop. I trust people’s good sense.”

Behavioural expert Professor Susan Michie, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said any legislation needed to be accompanied with information campaigns on why and how to follow the rules if people are to adhere to them.

She said this had not been seen with the UK Government’s approach to face coverings in England, adding that it was “signalling importance rather than punishment”.

She told the PA news agency: “The Government is signalling we’re lifting all these things, and that suggests that things aren’t very risky any more.

“So the advantage of legislation is saying this is really risky, this is really important but it should be accompanied by clear, coherent, consistent messaging and a good public information campaign.”

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