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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the people of England to wear face coverings in shops on Monday to prevent the spread of coronavirus, although he stopped short of issuing any official requirements.

While visiting ambulance workers in London, Johnson said: “I think people should be wearing [face coverings] in shops.”


“And, in terms of how we do that, whether we make it mandatory or not, we’ll be looking at the guidance — we’ll be seeing a little bit more in the next few days,” he said, according to the BBC.

Johnson’s comments come after critics accused his government of failing to provide clarity on mask-wearing.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, talks with CEO of the London Ambulance Service Garrett Emmerson, right, and Chair of the London Ambulance Service Heather Lawrence during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust in London on Monday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

On Friday, Johnson was seen wearing a face mask for the first time while indicating that the government was considering “stricter” rules for using masks inside.


However, cabinet minister Michael Gove on Sunday told the BBC that masks should not be mandatory inside shops, instead said it was “basic good manners, courtesy and consideration” to wear one.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth wrote a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, saying that “conflicting advice and conflicting statements from the government only hinder our fight against the virus.”

“The confusion around the use of face coverings and whether they will become mandatory needs to be addressed through a statement from ministers as a matter of priority,” Ashworth wrote, according to Sky News.

Face masks are already mandatory on public transportation in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Some Scottish shops also require masks, according to the outlet. Johnson’s government only controls the health policy in England.

The U.K. had 291,685 confirmed coronavirus cases and 44,915 deaths as of Monday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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