Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said it would be beneficial for people to wear non-medical coverings in places where social distances are difficult, such as on public transportation and in shops.
But the action was not mandatory, Sturgeon said, partly because there was no conclusive evidence that wearing face masks could substantially stop the spread of the corona virus in the community.
“Evidence about using face masks is limited, but there may be benefits to using face masks when you leave the house and enter a closed room,” Sturgeon said on Tuesday, at the Scottish government daily briefing in Edinburgh.
The British government seems shocked by Sturgeon’s move. Downing Street said on Tuesday that it had not yet made a decision to cover face for residents in Britain. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has sent evidence to the ministers, and the government will announce the decision as soon as it is made, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said, according to the PA Media news agency.
At the British government daily briefing later, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser Angela McLean said SAGE had concluded there was “weak evidence of a small effect” in which facial masks can prevent infected people from transmitting the corona virus to others.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said the government plans to increase domestic production from faceplate. “I can confirm Lord Agnew, the joint Cabinet Office and finance minister, has launched a domestic effort to ensure we produce such masks,” Gove told the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The four British countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – have largely taken a coordinated approach to dealing with the corona virus. But Scotland, which has its own legal system and has more power to move than other countries, has deviated from the British approach at several stages. Gathering more than 500 people was banned in Scotland on March 12, more than a week before restrictions were imposed across Britain.
A Downing Street spokesman acknowledged Sturgeon’s different approach. “There is a point in the response so far where the announcement has been made at a slightly different time. In general we have moved forward with a single four-state approach. I think that all the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all evolved saying they hope they will continue to be case and we will agree with that. “
“The Coronavirus Law respects devolution. It puts the solution in our own hands and we have done things differently in different problems where it is right for us.”