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Covid-19: Masks - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:27 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bilimoria Lord Bilimoria Crossbench 4:27 pm, 11th June 2020

My Lords, the University of Cambridge has just said that we have little to lose from the widespread adoption of face masks, but the gains could be significant. On 15 June, face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in England. On 5 June, the WHO updated its guidance on using face masks.

Does the Minister agree that the reduction of social distancing from two metres to one metre is really crucial now? The risk goes up from 1.3% to just 2.6% by doing so. Denmark has moved to one metre, as have France, Singapore, Hong Kong—I could go on. From a business point of view, one metre could be the difference between survival or bankruptcy. A pub or a restaurant can operate at barely 30% with two-metre social distancing; with one-metre social distancing it can operate at more than 70%. With one-metre social distancing, we can get four times as many people into any space than with two metres. The difference between opening or not is for not just the hospitality sector, which employs 3.5 million people, but schools, theatres, cinemas and universities. The wearing of masks on public transport can add to making one metre even safer. For the sake of our economy and livelihoods, could the Government please bring social distancing down from two metres to one metre immediately?