Downing Street is still at odds with the Scottish government over face coverings, despite acknowledging their benefits.
On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recommended that people wear cloth face coverings, like scarves, when in enclosed spaces outside the home.
Now, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman has acknowledged that the evidence shows they can reduce the spread of the virus from infected individuals who are not showing symptoms.
“The advice we have received based on the science shows a weak but positive effect in reducing transmission of coronavirus from asymptomatic members of the public where social distancing isn’t possible,” he told journalists.
“What ministers need to consider is how best to produce advice for the public on the next steps, and that work is still ongoing.”
But while coverings are likely to feature in Boris Johnson’s plan on how lockdown measures may be eased, that announcement is not expected until after the Cabinet review the emergency measures next Thursday.
Mr Johnson told his first Downing Street press conference since being discharged from hospital that coverings “will be useful” to both slow the spread of the disease and give people “confidence” to go back to work, amid fears there may be hesitance after weeks of firm messaging to stay at home.
The PM promised to deliver a “road map, a menu of options” next week on how he would get the economy moving again and get children back to school while still suppressing the disease’s spread.
Ministers are understood not to be considering recommending the use of medical-quality masks, advice which may divert supplies away from the front line.
Experts do not believe that rudimentary coverings give much, if any, protection to the individual wearing them.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.