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.