Majority of people support mandatory face coverings as mask use increases rapidly

By Francesca Williams
August 10 2020, 17:30

The vast majority of people support and are complying with the new rules requiring the use of face coverings indoors according to ONS statistics.  

On July 14, the government announced that face coverings were to become mandatory in shops and supermarkets from July 24 as a new step to help control the spread of coronavirus.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that from the period July 22 to July 26 more than 8 in 10 adults (84%) wore a face covering when they left home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, an increase from 71% the previous week, and 61% the week before that.

Many people reported that face coverings helped ease their anxiety over leaving home during the pandemic.

Sanjana Narang, 27, from Milton Keynes, said: “I will not leave my home without wearing a mask because I feel we all need to be responsible in helping to overcome this challenge.

“The pandemic is a huge issue for the entire world, and we should not take it lightly.”

Natalie Reeves Billing, 38, an author from Liverpool said: “I do feel safe when I am outside wearing my mask, however it does sadden me, but only on a sentimental note.

“I am finding it exceptionally hard to know if someone is smiling at me, and I know that must work both ways.”

Although face coverings take some getting used to, further data from the ONS reveals the majority of people are in support of the new rules.  

Of 1,560 people surveyed, 57% said they strongly supported the mandatory use of face coverings in shops and supermarkets, with 25% tending to support and only 3% who strongly opposed.

Ms Reeves Billing said: “Masks are uncomfortable, but if you are fit and healthy then we must all just grin and bear it.

“The only excuse for not wearing one can be on medical grounds.”

Ms Narang added: “I find it really scary when others don’t wear one and don’t maintain any social distancing.

“I wouldn’t say that I have a phobia of the virus, but rather I am cautious and want to wait until a vaccination comes. Hence, I have not met any of my friends or family since March.”

On August 8 the government extended the compulsory use of face coverings to more indoor settings.

However, many people are calling for new, more comfortable mask designs, and for a revision of face mask supply in the UK.

Ms Reeves Billing said: “If they are going to become a staple of our lives, we need better designs that don’t feel so hot and uncomfortable and allows better airflow. That way, perhaps people wouldn’t be so tempted to take them off all the time.”

Essex based PPE start-up PopOn Masks Ltd, one of the few British companies manufacturing disposable face masks which meet standards, has called on the government to invest in British companies supplying PPE rather than importing.

MASK UP: Essex based PPE start-up PopOn Masks Ltd manufactures disposable face masks. Credit: PopOn Masks Ltd

Managing director and founder Jamie Majid said: “Imports from Turkey and China have been variable in quality, often being returned as unusable.

“As we move towards autumn and colder weather, it is vital the government works with as many British companies as possible instead of relying on ultimately expensive low-grade PPE that not only puts front line workers at risk but leaves the general public vulnerable.”

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