I wrote to my MP, slightly amending the KBF template to include that I had told local shops that I would not be using them if they enforced mask wearing. Have just got this reply - it has a lot of words in it:) Am wondering whether she read her job description!
Thank you for taking the time to write to xxxx MP with regard to the Government’s decision to mandate the wearing of face coverings in certain situations, and to raise your more general concern over government powers.
xxx has read your email with interest and has asked me to respond to you on her behalf.
With regard to Government powers – xxx would not support any government that unilaterally handed itself powers and is clear that any response to a global pandemic, particularly one involving a novel virus to which there is no known vaccine and no known treatment demanded that action be taken. Parliament retains its rights of scrutiny through its elected representatives, the House of Lords and the activities of a range of powerful committees. The decisions taken by the Government have each been considered and expert advice taken throughout – which xxx believes is precisely as it should. xxx makes her voice heard on behalf of all of her constituents both in Parliament and via the other channels she has available to her and will continue to do so.
With regard to the mandatory wearing of face coverings – xxx is clear that there is a need to balance the competing demands of protecting civil liberties and controlling the spread of the virus whilst enabling the restoration of economic and social life. xx’s colleagues in Government have made a judgement that the best way to balance these things is to enable people to go out and about, and to see and socialise with friends and family, but to require that, if they choose to do so, they take additional measures to restrict the spread of this virus by wearing face coverings in limited situations.
The science in this area has evolved during the outbreak, and the body of scientific evidence that has now built up shows that the risk of transmission is made lower by wearing a face covering.
The UK’s Royal Society, for example, recently reviewed all the evidence and came to the conclusion that face coverings are effective for protecting the wearer of the face covering as well as those around them, though note the covering needs to be of a certain standard.
Significantly, recently the World Health Organisation changed their advice, (WHO), by saying that whilst the virus is primarily spread through contact and respiratory droplets, under some circumstance airborne transmission might occur, the WHO go on to advise the use of fabric masks, (face coverings), to reduce the spread of infection.
This increasing evidence, but also the new evidence that sales and retail staff were being more severely affected by the virus than the general population, supported the decision that from 24 July it became mandatory to wear a face covering when visiting a shop or supermarket. Previously this requirement was advisory. There are of course some exceptions, for example the rules do not apply to children under 11.
The full guidance on the wearing of face coverings can be found here.
There will be a wide spread public health communications campaign within which it will be made clear that social distancing, good hygiene and isolating when infected or having symptoms, also remain important mitigating actions.
Your point that this decision will reduce the number of people going out is not a view that is shared by those advising the Government. Perhaps more importantly people need to go shopping and for those who are most at risk it is quite right that steps are taken to protect them, and also to reassure them that they can be safe when they go out.
xxx recognises that this decision is not one you welcome, but she is confident that there is now enough evidence to suggest that the wearing of face coverings in certain situations will help stop those with the virus from giving it to others, and for that reason she supports this decision. The Government has noted that it will keep all guidelines under constant review to ensure that any restrictions in place are worthwhile measures – where that is shown not to be the case the measure will be considered and potentially changed.
Thank you again for raising these important matters with xxx, with regard to face coverings, she will stay abreast of the latest evidence so that she can raise local concerns with her colleagues as appropriate.
I hope you remain safe and well at this very difficult time.
With kind regards'