The Chancellor announced a range of measures yesterday aiming to stimulate business and consumer spending, but this is only addressing half the battle and more needs to be done to make the public feel safe when out in public.
New research from HEROES, the charity set up by NHS workers for NHS workers, and Ally, a new provider of sustainable face coverings, has found that 65% feel safer when wearing a mask in public, a figure that rises to 68% when seeing other people wearing face coverings. 71% of the public also feel safer when seeing people working in businesses doing so.
But despite this self-declared feeling of safety when masks are worn, one-third of Brits have not worn any face covering in the past two weeks.
The research from Ally and HEROES also found that the drop in social distancing from 2 m to 1m has had a detrimental impact on that feeling of safety, with 78% feeling somewhat or very safe at 2 m but just 47% saying the same for 1m, which makes the wearing of masks even more important.
Masks serve two purposes: they protect others by preventing coughing and sneezing particles into the air and onto the surrounding surfaces, and they protect the wearer by preventing droplets entering the mouth or nose and preventing you touching your mouth. Both of these lead to a third benefit: they protect us, healthcare workers, in the NHS from being overwhelmed by a second wave and prevent infection when we are treating patients.
The Government has been slow to act in too many areas during this pandemic, but here is a real opportunity to get ahead and reduce the risk of a disastrous second wave, to make mask wearing mandatory in all public places, and support businesses and the general public with the means and the tools to do this."
Dr Dominic Pimenta, Co-Founder of HEROES
The measures announced by the Government yesterday will be welcome news for businesses, but the Government is missing the point that the public needs to feel safe to get out and about. At the same time, the increased use of poor quality masks poses a huge threat to not only the spread of the virus but the environment too, which is why sustainable and reusable masks are important and will significantly reduce the impact as lockdown eases. Sustainability and safety do not need to be mutually exclusive.”
Gareth Gillatt, Co-Founder of Ally
Of those who declared that they hadn’t worn any masks in the last two weeks, 37% responded that it was due to the fact they aren’t mandatory in the places they have visited. Additionally, 21% responded that they don’t think it will protect either themselves or others, and 18% stated they hadn’t read any scientific proof to say that they work. There is an abundance of evidence that demonstrates how wearing masks can curb the spread of Covid-19 and the Government must lead the way in addressing these doubts.
HEROES and Ally have joined forces to champion the wearing of face covers in public and are calling upon the Government to make it mandatory. As the pandemic became increasingly serious early this year, Ally co-founder Gareth Gillatt, felt it would only be a matter of time until the general public would start using ineffective, unsustainable face masks, and sought out a charity partner that would help drive fundamental change that could have a lasting impact as well as protect people and the NHS.
As part of the partnership, Ally is providing 30,000 masks to HEROES who will distribute the items to UK health workers. In addition, Ally will be donating all proceeds generated from the sale of HEROES-branded face covers, as well as £2 for every generic Ally face cover sold on the Ally website. The proceeds will allow HEROES’ to continue supporting those fighting to keep the nation healthy and safe. The public will be able to pre order HEROES-branded masks immediately with delivery occurring by the end of July.