Sammy Wilson MP for East Antrim in Northern Ireland has criticised suggestions that face masks could be made compulsory in shops in Northern Ireland. His comments were in yesterday's Newsletter which is a newspaper in Northern Ireland. I have copied the article here and there is a link to the Newsletter site at the end:
NI face-mask row - Sammy Wilson questions scientific evidence and accuses pro-maskers of ‘blackmail’ and scaremongering - Health Minister Robin Swann says wearing a mask shows NI people emerging from shielding that we care.
East Antrim MP, Sammy Wilson, says he doubts the scientific evidence that is being used by Health Minister, Robin Swann, to introduce the mandatory wearing of face-coverings in shops and other public places in Northern Ireland.
In a hard-hitting statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Wilson said politicians who want to make face-coverings compulsory were “irresponsible” and playing “on the fears of the public.
“With the number of patients in hospital suffering from Covid-19 now in single figures and the number of new infections throughout July not totalling more than 20 a day, it is absurd for politicians to blackmail the public into wearing face masks,” said Mr. Wilson.
He continued: “Throughout the whole month of July, when face masks were not mandatory in shops, there were five deaths related to, not caused by, Covid-19.
“This fall in the Covid related death rate and drop in new infections happened at a time when retail was open for business and the wearing of face masks was not enforced.
“It is deeply irresponsible for politicians to ignore the facts and instead play on the fears of the public to bring about the mandatory use of face masks.”
Mr. Wilson added: “With no dramatic rise in deaths or new infections, retailers have proven that they can put in place adequate safety measures to protect both shoppers and staff.
“It would be madness for the Health Minister to then impose the wearing of face masks, which will put people off from visiting our town centres and damage our economic recovery.”
Health Minister, Robin Swann, has been a staunch supporter of making face-covering mandatory in Northern Ireland.
Minister Swann implored people to think about face-coverings with the caveat that they would be showing those of us in Northern Ireland who will officially be able to stop shielding on Friday.
“It has been a long road for those who have been shielding at home because their medical condition placed them at particular risk from Covid-19.
“While shielding comes to a halt this Friday, we all have a duty to support our fellow citizens and help them resume everyday activities.
“That certainly includes wearing face coverings in shops and other indoor settings. Consider it an act of solidarity with your friends and neighbours.”
Minister Swann added: “Many of those who have been shielding will understandably be nervous about their leaving their homes.
“We can all play our part in assuring them, by showing kindness and consideration. That means keeping our distance and giving them space and time.
“A good rule of thumb is to assume everyone we encounter may have been shielding. Strict social distancing remains absolutely vital.”
The Health Minister said there is now a strong consensus in favour of face coverings in shops.
“The medical and scientific case has become increasingly compelling. Covering up is the right thing to do and the more of us who do it, the safer we all will be.
“We must also, of course, recognise and respect that because of underlying health problems some people will not be able to wear face coverings.”
Shielding is being paused due to the currently low prevalence of Covid-19 in the community. The situation will be kept under review.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride said: “I want to thank those who have been shielding for following public health advice. I realise how difficult a time this has been for you and your families. Your actions have undoubtedly saved lives.
“It is important to continue to be really careful after shielding is paused and to remain very strict about social distancing and hand hygiene.
“While the risk of catching Covid-19 has significantly reduced, it has not disappeared. If you were shielding then you remain more vulnerable than the general population.
“So minimise the risks as much as possible: keep your distance, wash your hands before touching your face, especially if you touch hard surfaces if you are out, and avoid enclosed spaces as much as possible.
“The rest of us must provide all the support we can – not least through wearing face coverings when appropriate.”
The Chief Medical Officer said people who have been shielding should decide what to do at their own pace and in their own time.
“There are some who will be greatly relieved on Friday and others who will remain very anxious.
“People should make their own informed choices for themselves. There is always a degree of risk in contacts with the outside world but these have reduced and can be mitigated further by following the advice and by us all maintaining social distancing.
“It also has to be remembered that remaining indoors indefinitely is detrimental to everyone’s physical and mental health.”