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Coronavirus: Number 10 contradicts Health Secretary Matt Hancock on face mask rules after sandwich shop confusion | Politics News



Downing Street has suggested face masks won’t be mandatory when buying takeaway from a sandwich shop – contradicting what Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News hours earlier.

From 24 July, the wearing of a face covering will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England, with a fine of up to £100 for those who do not comply.

But, ahead of the measure being introduced, there was confusion about whether a face mask should be worn in takeaway food shops.

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Cabinet ministers Liz Truss and Michael Gove have this week both been pictured entering the same branch of sandwich shop Pret A Manger in Westminster.

But while Ms Truss donned a face mask, Mr Gove did not when he entered just minutes later.

Appearing on Sky News’ Kay [email protected] show on Wednesday morning, Mr Hancock was quizzed about what the rules would be from 24 July.

He explained that customers such as Mr Gove would need to wear a face mask in Pret branches because it is classed as a shop.

“If there is table service, then it is not necessary to have a mask,” the health secretary said.

“But in any shop you do need the mask. So, if you’re going up to the counter in Pret to buy takeaway, that is a shop – that is Pret operating as a shop.”

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However, later on Wednesday, Downing Street appeared to contradict Mr Hancock’s view.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We will be publishing the full guidance shortly but my understanding is that it wouldn’t be mandatory if you went in, for example, to a sandwich shop in order to get a takeaway to wear a face covering.

“It is mandatory… we are talking about supermarkets and other shops, rather than food shops.”

To add to the confusion, Chancellor Rishi Sunak posted a picture of himself in a Pret branch while wearing a face mask.

“Making the most of @Pret’s price cut in response to the VAT reduction that takes effect today for the tourism and hospitality sectors,” the chancellor posted on Twitter.

“As part of our #PlanForJobs this temporary cut will help over 150,000 businesses protect the jobs of 2.4 million people.”

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