To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of face coverings in reducing the level of covid-19 cases since the wearing of face coverings was made compulsory in shops and on public transport on 24 July 2020.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
1 October 2020
There is strong scientific evidence that the risk of transmission is higher in enclosed spaces compared to outdoors, it is this risk of transmission that wearing a face covering will reduce.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advised that using cloth masks as a precautionary measure could be at least partially effective in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible consistently, creating a risk of close social contact with multiple parties the person does not usually meet.
This advice does not replace or change existing advice on other measures – such as hand washing, social distancing and self-isolation – which remain more important (because of stronger evidence and larger effects).
People should continue to follow the advice on using face coverings closely, which is to wash hands or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on and after taking it off. People should try to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until they have an opportunity to wash or dispose of them.