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Independents' Day

BMA calls for the public to be required to wear face masks in all settings

The BMA has called for the public to be required to wear face coverings ‘as a matter of course’ as social distancing rules are eased.

The bid came in response to the Government's announcement earlier today of a significant lifting of lockdown measures, as it does 'not believe there is a current risk' of a second Covid-19 spike overwhelming the NHS.

From 4 July, the two-metre social distancing rule will be reduced to one metre in England, although people should keep two metres apart when they can and take ‘mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission’, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

However, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned that coronavirus is 'still circulating' in the community and suggested face coverings should be required to avoid further outbreaks.

He said: ‘We must do all we can to avoid further spread and local outbreaks as has occurred in other nations and which would cost more lives.

‘The BMA believes face masks or coverings should be worn by the public now as a matter of course, in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible.’

He added: ‘It is already mandatory to wear coverings on public transport and we believe the Westminster Government should now require the public to wear face coverings and ensure people have access to enough proper masks or coverings, as has been done in other countries.’

This is ‘especially’ important in indoor settings such as shops, homes and schools, he said.

But a spokesperson clarified to Pulse that the BMA believes face coverings should be worn at all times where practicable, including outdoors, in case social distancing is not observed for whatever reason.

The professional body is also calling for domestic manufacturing of face masks to be supported to meet demand.

The BMA has previously called for the wearing of face masks to become compulsory in GP practices, as is the case in hospitals.

Last week, Pulse revealed that the Government is reviewing whether to make face masks mandatory in GP practice settings, following confusion over the advice.

Readers' comments (9)

  • What has this got to do with representing the interest of doctors? More evidence that the bma has been colonised by zealots with their own agenda and no intent to pursue the grubby job of looking after their members. Anyone paying the membership fees is just daft.

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  • Utter, non-evidence based rubbish based on fear in the council led by someone in a high-risk group.

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  • Spot on Stelvio, nothing whatsoever to do with the BMA.
    Haven’t been a member for over 20 years & this pontificating from the sidelines on subjects where there are already more appropriate organisations available for comment is one of the reasons why.

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  • report to gmc for bringing profession int disrepute

    why is anyone a member of bma?--its there for itself and always has been. how much is sub. now?

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  • is c n a member of any political party?

    is he on a shortlist?

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  • It seems to me a lot of medical practitioners are giving their view of public health measures which must be applied to everyone. Our political masters take this and make laws to enforce it and punish dissenters. . Whatever happened to informed consent and the right to refuse what your doctor advises. Why is the GMC allowing consent to be dismissed in this way? There is a lot about consent on their website but it seems optional.

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  • Coronoia- a new ICD-11 Diagnosis. An irrational fear by low risk groups about their own mortality, thus navel gazing the whole of society into a whirlpool of misery, poverty, mental health issues, general social unrest and anarchy, and , perhaps , neglecting those who really need medical help.

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  • Utter nonsense, I left the BMA years ago, I now realise that I made a good decision.

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  • Leading virologists and public health experts have strongly recommended face masks for all public places; and current UK policy also says 1 metre plus i.e where 2 meters social distancing is not possible additional measures are required including face masks.

    Perhaps the doubters should see what the Oxford group led by Trisha Grenhalgh said recently in the BMJ: The first is that in the context of
    covid-19, many people can be taught to use masks properly and
    will do this consistently without abandoning other important
    anti-contagion measures. The second is that if political will is
    there, mask shortages can be quickly overcome by repurposing
    manufacturing capacity—something that is already happening
    informally.37
    In conclusion, in the face of a pandemic the search for perfect
    evidence may be the enemy of good policy.

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