Nicola Sturgeon recommends face coverings in 'limited circumstances' but Westminster quiet on issue

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

Scotland is recommending its citizens wear "face coverings" in public to help slow the spread of coronavirus when social distancing is difficult to maintain - but the UK government in Westminster remains quiet on the issue.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said face coverings, such as a scarf - as opposed to "medical grade face masks" - might be of "some benefit" in "limited circumstances".

She said covering your face in places such as supermarkets and while on public transport, might help stop the spread of Covid-19.

  • ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith has the latest on the advice issued:

But she warned face coverings are "not a substitute" for social distancing and said there's "limited" evidence on how useful they are.

The recommendation to wear face coverings is a "precautionary measure" which would reduce the risk of an asymptomatic carrier spreading the infection.

Ministers in Westminster received advice on face masks from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) last week, but have yet to make a decision on whether to advise people wear them.

Many people, including some bus drivers, are already choosing to wear face coverings. Credit: PA

Ministers “are considering the advice they have been given and once a decision has been reached then we will announce it publicly”, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

As the Scottish Government unveiled its own guidance on the issue, suggesting the voluntary wearing of coverings, Downing Street said the Prime Minister wanted to maintain a UK-wide response to coronavirus as far as possible.

“There have been points in the response so far where announcements have been made at ever so slightly different times.

“By and large we have moved forward with a single four-nations approach. I think the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all said they hope that continues to be the case and we would agree with that.

“We continue to work closely with them.”

Ms Sturgeon added how wearing a face mask outdoors provided no benefit and said people should not "think they are invincible" while wearing one.

The prime minister's spokesman said some 12 million items of PPE had been delivered on Monday to 227 trusts and care settings, including gloves, aprons, three different types of masks, eye protectors and gowns.

“At the morning meeting yesterday the Prime Minister did focus on delivering PPE,” the spokesman added.

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