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Boris Johnson has said the government is looking at introducing stricter rules on wearing face coverings.
To date, ministers have resisted calls to make wearing a face mask mandatory in public.
Government recommendations as part of the “one metre-plus” guidance are that measures such as wearing a face covering should be taken if people indoors cannot keep two metres away from each other.
Politicians have faced criticism after not wearing a face covering at press conferences and photocalls, in particular chancellor Rishi Sunak was pictured serving food to customers at a Wagamama restaurant in central London without a non-surgical mask following his summer economic statement.
Speaking at People’s PMQs, Johnson suggested that expert opinion on face coverings had shifted over the course of the pandemic.
Underlining the shift in tone, the PM was later pictured wearing a face mask for the first time as he visited businesses in his Uxbridge constituency.
He said in the online question and answer session with the public: “As we get the numbers down in the way that we have and we really stamp out outbreaks in the way that we are, 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.
“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.”
He added: “The balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted more in favour of them than it was. We are very keen to follow that.
“I do want to get back to a world where the British people are able to shake hands – that’s what we are aiming for.
“But face coverings, we increasingly think that we have got to be very insistent in confined spaces, where you are meeting people you don’t normally come into contact...