The UK government does not intend to follow France’s decision to make face coverings compulsory in all shared spaces in off

ices and factories, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.

His comments came after France’s Ministry of Labour announced on Tuesday that face masks would be mandatory from the beginning of September in the workplace, with the exception of private offices.

‘We constantly look at the scientific advice and the answer here is we’re not currently considering doing that,’ the health secretary said.

Employment lawyer Charlotte Turnball questioned the reliability of the MP’s words, citing the government’s many U-turns during the pandemic.

‘We do not have a crystal ball but employers should note that while face coverings are currently not compulsory, employers must decide whether to require employees to wear face coverings based on the outcome of a workplace health and safety assessment,’ she warned.

The official UK government guidance remains that employers should ensure that their employees maintaining social distancing guidelines. This included keeping a two-metre distance or, if this is not possible, one metre with extra precautions. Those precautions will likely include the use of face coverings.

‘Employers should therefore consider developing a policy on wearing non-medical masks in settings where physical distance cannot be achieved,’ Charlotte added.