MILLIONS of workers could be ordered to wear face masks to prevent a deadly second wave of coronavirus once lockdown ends, it is claimed.
Dominic Raab yesterday extended the UK’s measures by a further three weeks – but ministers are understood to be in talks to assess how Brits can return to the workforce once restrictions are eased.
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According to the Daily Mail, one idea favoured by the government for when Britain begins to lift its lockdown is the use of protective equipment at work.
Those working indoors – including office and factory workers – could be ordered to socially distance and to wear face masks and gloves, the paper says.
It comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for Londoners to wear face masks outside – including on public transport.
The British government has been reluctant to take up the trend – favoured by many countries across Asia even before the lockdown, and now mandatory in America – citing a lack of evidence.
'WE WILL NEED WORKPLACE PPE'
But new research suggests wearing masks can help ease the lifting of strict lockdown measures, and stop those infected with coronavirus from passing it on.
A cabinet source told the Daily Mail: "Everyone accepts – including industry – that the next phase is not going to be a return to business as usual.
"We will need intensive testing and tracing of suspected cases.
"And we will have to have social distancing in factories and offices – we will need personal protective equipment in the workplace."
The source added that failure to do so could see a second lockdown, echoing Mr Raab's comments throughout the daily coronavirus press conferences.
First secretary of state, Raab – who is deputising for the Prime Minister as he recovers from coronavirus – has repeatedly told Brits we must not give coronavirus a "second chance".
'DON'T GIVE VIRUS A SECOND CHANCE'
Speaking yesterday he repeatedly warned that failure to uphold social distancing and other rigorous protocols in place during the lockdown could result in backtracking on progress the country has made.
In yesterday's briefing Mr Raab laid out five key checks that must be in place before the UK government can even consider lifting the lockdown – that could last until June.
The five key checks are:
- The NHS must still be able to cope – with the confidence that critical care and special treatment can continue across the UK
- A sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates so experts are confident that the peak has passed
- The rate of infection falling to "manageable levels"
- Making sure that Britain has enough testing capacity and PPE to relax measures
- Ensuring that the changes will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS
Mr Raab said rushing to relax the measures would jeopardise all the progress made so far.
Experts also warned some social distancing measures could stay in place until a vaccine is found, which could take up to 18 months.
Insisting Britain was at “a delicate and dangerous stage” of this pandemic, Mr Raab told the No10 press conference: “We need to be patient a while longer. If we rush to relax the measures in place, we would risk wasting all the sacrifices and all the progress we have made.
“We’ve just come too far, we’ve lost too many loved ones, we’ve already sacrificed far too much to ease up now.”
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