15 Jul Coronavirus: Number 10 contradicts Health Secretary Matt Hancock on face mask rules after sandwich shop confusion | Politics News
Downing Street has suggested face masks won’t be mandatory when buying takeaway from a sandwich shop – contradicting what Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News hours earlier.
From 24 July, the wearing of a face covering will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England, with a fine of up to £100 for those who do not comply.
But, ahead of the measure being introduced, there was confusion about whether a face mask should be worn in takeaway food shops.
Cabinet ministers Liz Truss and Michael Gove have this week both been pictured entering the same branch of sandwich shop Pret A Manger in Westminster.
But while Ms Truss donned a face mask, Mr Gove did not when he entered just minutes later.
Appearing on Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast show on Wednesday morning, Mr Hancock was quizzed about what the rules would be from 24 July.
He explained that customers such as Mr Gove would need to wear a face mask in Pret branches because it is classed as a shop.
“If there is table service, then it is not necessary to have a mask,” the health secretary said.
“But in any shop you do need the mask. So, if you’re going up to the counter in Pret to buy takeaway, that is a shop – that is Pret operating as a shop.”
However, later on Wednesday, Downing Street appeared to contradict Mr Hancock’s view.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We will be publishing the full guidance shortly but my understanding is that it wouldn’t be mandatory if you went in, for example, to a sandwich shop in order to get a takeaway to wear a face covering.
“It is mandatory… we are talking about supermarkets and other shops, rather than food shops.”
Making the most of @Pret‘s price cut in response to the VAT reduction that takes effect today for the tourism and hospitality sectors.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) July 15, 2020
To add to the confusion, Chancellor Rishi Sunak posted a picture of himself in a Pret branch while wearing a face mask.
“Making the most of @Pret’s price cut in response to the VAT reduction that takes effect today for the tourism and hospitality sectors,” the chancellor posted on Twitter.
“As part of our #PlanForJobs this temporary cut will help over 150,000 businesses protect the jobs of 2.4 million people.”