Downing Street says Scottish government face covering policy has ‘weak but positive effect’

Ministers are still deciding the details of the advice to issue on face coverings.

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.

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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.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce a "road map" of how to lift lockdown measures next week.

“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.

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