The Council of Ministers has reviewed its position on wearing face coverings to now ‘strongly’ advising they be worn in crowded and enclosed spaces, despite new cases continuing to fall.
This evening’s announcement comes nearly two weeks after we reported that the Emergency Advisory Group said that transmission was ‘uncontrolled’ and called on the gov to advise face coverings as a ‘matter of urgency’.
While current case numbers have reduced from the recent peak, the gov says this is likely to fluctuate and some level of cases will continue for the foreseeable future. An increased use and consideration of face coverings could play a role in containing further spread of the virus, allowing society and the economy to continue to function over the next month.
The advice aligns with the advice given in England, where face coverings are no longer mandatory but it is advised that they are used in crowded and confined spaces. However, observers have pointed out that many people in major cities have stopped wearing coverings except for on public transport.
Why So Slow?
It was on July 23 that the EAG called on the gov to make ‘clear recommendations and strong guidance on mitigations for use in public places and lower risk settings’.
They added: ‘These include the use of face coverings in places like supermarkets, shops and hospitality settings. Masks should be mandatory on public transport. The impact of well-ventilated spaces on reducing the spread of Covid should also be clearly communicated and those in an office environment should be encouraged to reduce the number of face-to-face meetings where possible.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle said tonight: ‘It is encouraging to see that the case numbers of Covid in the Island have reduced. This is undoubtedly thanks to the great Manx public’s diligence and the responsible measures that people are taking. Clearly, it is still too early to tell what the long term trends may look like. The CoMin has always committed to reviewing the situation regularly and updating our guidance in line with the data available to us.
‘Council has once again discussed the impact that face coverings, when used properly, can have. While we are not making it a legal requirement we are strongly advising their use in in crowded and enclosed spaces between now and the end of August, when the position will be reviewed again.
‘Covid-19 will be a consideration in our daily lives for some time to come, and we will have to manage living in a world with the virus. We all need to consider our hands, face, space and fresh air all as mitigations and they all play a part in helping to contain the spread of the virus. Business need to consider maximising ventilation and supporting customers and staff to make personal choices. While positive personal choices will play a major role in keeping our Island safe against coronavirus, we do recognise that there are some settings where personal choice, such as maintaining physical distancing, is more difficult and in these situations we advise that a face covering is used, but it is still ultimately a personal choice for each and every one of us.’