With the pandemic under control in most areas of the UK and additional steps in Leicester to subdue the local outbreak, surprising news is out that the UK has done a good job in suppressing the virus. Now the government is considering whether mandatory face masks should be enforced or wearing a face covering to be left as optional. An announcement is due within the next few days.
COVID-19 Positive Test Result incidence
Not withstanding the fact that the UK has one of the highest death rates in the world on reported numbers (third behind the US and Brazil on total number of deaths and fourth behind San Marino, Belgium and Andorra on deaths per million population), the UK is now testing well for a low incidence of Coronavirus. Around 0.5% of tests are returning a positive diagnosis of Coronavirus which is roughly the same as Germany. France returns a 1.3% incidence of positive test results with 1.5% in Spain. Explaining the reluctance to allow free travel from Portugal is their rate of 2.4% whereas the US proportion of positive test results is 8.2%.
Mandatory face masks
The ongoing discussion on the efficacy of face masks hasn’t gone away with Boris Johnson been seen wearing one for the first time in the past few days. Many are keen for them to be worn ‘to protect others’ whilst there are still discouraging statements that they will give ‘added reassurance’.
Reassurance isn’t really a good reason to wear a mask, indeed there’s nothing more scary than a bunch of people wearing masks to remind you that it’s not really that safe in the shops or to be rammed on the underground or on a train with potentially infected people. For some this will have the reverse effect and far from being reassuring could deter them from returning to work in the office or to shop online instead of on the High Street. However there is a growing acceptance that mandatory face masks might give minimal additional protection in enclosed spaces.
Gove: No to a mandate
Last Sunday, on the Andrew Marr show, Michael Gove suggested that a mandatory face masks order wasn’t desirable but that they should be worn as a ‘courtesy’ to others.
Johnson: Maybe a mandate?
Then today, this Monday, during a visit to the London Ambulance Service Boris said they have a great deal of value in confined spaces with people you don’t normally meet and that scientific evidence has been growing. He said he ‘thinks’ people should be wearing in shops and will announce in the next few days but stopped short of saying that they would be mandatory. He’s also not specified what a face covering should be – currently anything from a scarf to a surgical mask and everything in between.
Drakeford: Let’s get really strict!
Finally this Monday lunch time, The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford just announced mandatory face masks from the 27th of July on all public transport, including in taxis. This is in part because so much public transport crosses the border with England where mandatory face masks are the rule for transport and so simplifies expectations. However Mark Drakeford went further and specified that they should be three-layer masks meaning simple face coverings such as a scarf are not acceptable.
The selling opportunity
With the upsurge in face mask wearing advice, it’s likely that those selling them, and those making fabric masks for sale, will see additional interest in the next few days and weeks.
With the variation in mandates from simple ‘Face Coverings’ to ‘Three-Layer Masks’, you will want to check your keywords and ensure buyers from all four UK countries will find your listings if they’re searching for a product using their domestic nomenclature – demand should remain high and perhaps even grow as more people return to work, go to the shops, and start to socialise in more confined spaces or perhaps visit attractions such as museums. Get your marketplace offers right and there should be a ready stream of buyers for face masks.