Boris Johnson was seen wearing a face mask for the first time on Friday, with the coverings now set to be made compulsory in shops and pubs in England within weeks.
The prime minister was spotted wearing a Conservative blue £2 face mask while touring his Uxbridge constituency, where he visited a pub, shops and a hairdresser.
A government source said tonight that it was a ‘fair assumption’ that masks would become mandatory in shops and other indoor settings within a few weeks.
The UK government currently recommends measures such as a face covering should be taken if people cannot keep two metres away from each other indoors.
However, unlike Scotland – where coverings became compulsory in shops from today – the only place they are mandated is public transport. A poll for MailOnline has found 61 per cent of the public want to follow the example north of the border on the issue.
Speaking during an online Q&A session with members of the public, the PM admitted that ‘the balance of scientific opinion seemed to have shifted’ over how effective masks can be.
‘I do think we need to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don’t normally meet,’ Mr Johnson said.
Boris Johnson wears a mask as he pours a pint at the Crown and Treaty pub in Uxbridge on Friday
Boris Johnson was pictured wearing a face mask for the first time in public while out in his Uxbridge constituency
The prime minister wore a mask in conservative blue as he met shop owners in his constituency
It comes after he had hinted the coverings would be made compulsory in shops in England
A poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for MailOnline found 61 per cent of the public in England would like to see coverings enforced in shops and supermarkets – with just 26 per cent opposed. The support is reflected across the wider UK
‘We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops, for instance, where there is a risk of transmission.’
The prime minister showed his continued support for the hospitality industry by visiting the recently-refurbished Crown and Treaty pub in Uxbridge this afternoon.
He took off his mask when he toured the premises and sat down with pub bosses for a drink.
Speaking afterwards, he said: ‘I know that this has been an extremely difficult few months for pubs and so it was real pleasure to be able to drop into the Crown & Treaty to offer my support following their reopening.
‘There was a great spirit among the staff who have clearly worked incredibly hard to make the pub COVID-secure and ensure customers are safe. Pubs are an important part of our local communities and the Government is determined to do what it can to support them.’
Earlier, Mr Johnson faced questions over why he had yet to be seen in a mask in public, before later wearing one.
By contrast, Nicola Sturgeon has appeared in public sporting a tartan model, and has trolled Mr Johnson by retweeting an article asking why Westminster politicians are not wearing them.
A poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for MailOnline found 61 per cent of the public in England would like to see coverings enforced in shops and supermarkets – with just 26 per cent opposed. And new figures from the Office for National Statistics today suggested half of adults are already routinely donning them.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been seen wearing a mask while visiting a hospital, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also wore one while attending a gallery this week.
But despite revealing he has a Florence Nightingale mask, the PM has not been seen wearing it.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak faced a backlash yesterday after he was pictured serving food to customers at a Wagamamas in London without a face covering.
The Prime Minister appeared to be in high spirits as he posed for selfies with members of the public
The Prime Minister visited a range of businesses in his constituency following the easing of lockdown
Boris Johnson talks to manager Leigh Phillips (left) and Stonegate CEO Simon Longbottom (centre) at the Crown and Treaty pub in his Uxbridge constituency. He took his mask off for the chat
Speaking during an online Q&A session with members of the public, the PM admitted that ‘the balance of scientific opinion seemed to have shifted’ over how effective they can be
London mayor Sadiq Khan has written to the PM saying he is ‘disappointed and frustrated’ that the Government has not said masks must be worn in ‘busy and enclosed public places’.
The Labour politician added: ‘Face coverings are not only vital for public health. ‘They could play an increasing role in supporting public confidence and our economic recovery.’
When asked whether such a gesture was according to social distancing rules, the PM’s spokesman said: ‘The guidance is clear that you should stay two metres apart where you can. ‘If that’s not possible, it is one metre, plus mitigation, and that mitigation has been set out in the guidance.’
In a round of interviews this morning, culture minister Caroline Dinenage said she wears a mask ‘all the time’ as the Government came under pressure to answer why more senior figures had not been pictured wearing face coverings.
Ms Dinenage, when asked if she had worn a covering since the coronavirus pandemic started, said she regularly wore face masks made by her son and that she had posted an image of herself wearing it on social media.
To mark face masks being made mandatory on public transport last month, the Tory MP tweeted a picture of herself on June 5 while wearing a cloth covering.
Ms Dinenage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I wear mine all the time.
Nicola Sturgeon (left) has trolled Boris Johnson (right) by retweeting an article asking why Westminster politicians were not wearing face coverings in public
‘I have a fashion design student as a son who has run me up a few on his sewing machine and I wear them all the time.
‘A lot of us are out there wearing them as we go about our daily lives.’
Ms Dinenage said ‘you’d have to ask the Prime Minister and the Chancellor’ when questioned why neither of the highest ranking ministers had been photographed wearing a covering in public.
She said ‘lots of my colleagues’ had taken to wearing a face covering, adding: ‘If the scientific evidence proves that it (the guidance on masks) definitely is something that needs to change, then of course we will.’
Asked whether the government had considered introducing a similar rule to Scotland in England, Ms Dinenage told the BBC: ‘Yes of course, and they are mandatory on public transport.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak faced a backlash yesterday after he was pictured serving food to customers at a Wagamamas in London without a face covering
Eu chief negotiator Michel Barnier wore a mask when he came to Downing Street this week – in contrast to the PM and the Chancellor
‘But we have said face coverings in closed spaces is advised, but people can use their own discretion – but of course we will keep this under review.
‘This is a topic upon which scientists tend to have rather different views so we are looking at it as new scientific studies emerge.’
The ONS survey was conducted between July 2-5, with 52 per cent of the public saying they had worn a face covering in the previous week – up from 43 per cent the week before..
The president of the Royal Society this week recommended that everyone should wear a face covering in public to reduce the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
Professor Venki Ramakrishna said people should wear a mask when they leave home – particularly in enclosed indoor spaces – but acknowledged that the public remain ‘sceptical’ about the benefits.