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Going shopping in Cambridge? Here’s why you should wear a face mask

With shops finally able to reopen as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease, many will be heading to Cambridge in pursuit of bargains - and a sense of normality.

But things will be far from normal still of course. As the Cambridge Independent has reported, one-way routes and keep-left restrictions for pedestrians, along with measures to aid social distancing and stewards will be in place.

Wear a face mask when shopping or in public spaces to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Wear a face mask when shopping or in public spaces to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Shopping centres and individual stores will be taking measures to keep staff and shoppers safe as “non-essential” retail outlets are allowed to open their doors for the first time since last March.

But how many will be wearing face masks?

Anyone arriving on public transport must do - it has been made mandatory by the government.

And the government has also advised anyone in enclosed spaces, such as shops, to wear a face mask. They have, however, stopped short of making it the law.

That is in spite of strong scientific evidence that masks, in tandem with social distancing and good hygiene measures, could play a crucial role in preventing second waves of the virus.

A study by the University of Cambridge showed that the R or reproduction number - which measures the average number of people that a person with the virus infects - can be kept below the critical figure of 1.0, if enough people wear masks.

Dr Richard Stutt, the study’s lead author, said: “Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public.”

And a review and meta-analysis of 172 studies from across 16 countries and six continents published in The Lancet concluded: “Face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection.”

Amid the weight of evidence, the World Health Organization updated its advice earlier this month and called on shoppers and others in enclosed spaces to wear face coverings.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, told the Cambridge Independent it was time to make this compulsory, as it has been in dozens of other countries around the world.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, has urged everyone to wear a face mask when shopping. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, has urged everyone to wear a face mask when shopping. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We strongly endorse the government decision to adopt World Health Organization advice that face coverings are compulsory for us all as adults from Monday on public transport and visiting hospitals,” he said.

“But we want them to go much further and make face coverings compulsory inside all other buildings when we are away from home, particularly when shopping.

“Given the steady increase in the numbers of city centre shops opening from this week, we encourage everyone to wear face coverings at all times inside such buildings.

“Along with safe distancing, everyone needs to play their part in our city’s #StaySafeCambridge campaign. Wear coverings not only keeps yourself safe - it also shows respect for others including shop workers by making the effort to keep them safer too.”

Cambridgeshire’s director of public health, Dr Liz Robin, also called on members of the public to wear face coverings in public.

She said: “For those without symptoms and not in isolation, it is a good idea to wear a face covering in public spaces. This is particularly important inside shops, on public transport and other enclosed spaces, as coronavirus spreads more readily indoors.

“The advice on face coverings is because there is increasing evidence that people can test positive for the virus without having symptoms.”

She stressed that this meant face coverings could help prevent people unwittingly spreading it to others.

The University of Cambridge called on governments to launch information campaigns that appeal to our altruistic side, with messages like: “My face mask protects you, your face mask protects me.”

Face coverings or masks should cover the nose and mouth to be effective.

Masks are readily available to buy online and in stores. It is advised that surgical-grade masks are reserved for those in healthcare

The government has also published advice on making your own.

Read more

Coronavirus: Face masks are key to preventing second wave of Covid-19 - and we should all wear them, say University of Cambridge researchers

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