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mask wearer in London
Photograph: Andrea Angelini /

Should I be wearing a face mask in London right now?

Written by
Laura Richards

Although many Londoners have adopted face coverings as a permanent streetwear fixture – from the practical to the fashionable to those pulled together from bits of fabric found around the flat – there’s still a lot of confusion over whether or not to wear a face mask in London’s streets and supermarkets right now. 

UK scientists have raised concerns that wearing a mask could increase the risk of infection, with people touching their mouth and face more often, particularly when putting on and removing masks.

However, New Yorkers are required to wear a mask or mouth-and-nose covering for any public excursion. Germany has seen most of its regions make mask-wearing in public a compulsory measure. And Emmanuel Macron told mayors of French cities last week to recommend the facial gear in public.

And it’s not just major cities around the world adopting the measure, it’s happening as close to home as Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon is now suggesting people wear face masks for shopping trips and on public transport – although the measure isn’t mandatory.

As such, it’s no surprise that London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been urging the government to address the issue for the UK capital. Particularly in situations where people can’t keep a safe distance from each other (on the London Underground, for example).

In last night’s (Thursday April 30) daily briefing from Number 10, Boris Johnson finally discussed whether or not those in the UK should be donning a mask when stepping out of the house. ‘As part of coming out of the lockdown, I do think face coverings will be useful,’ said the Prime Minister. He suggested face masks would give people confidence when returning to work and hinted that more official guidelines would be delivered next week when the government reveals plans for life after lockdown.  

We’ll keep you updated on developments, but in the meantime, read all the latest guidelines on moving around in the capital right now.

The Museum of London is collecting items from lockdown for its collection, face masks included.

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