Two senior Dundee councillors have backed the announcement that people must wear face coverings in shops, as the city council launches its own ‘Sunny Dundee’ masks.
Council leader John Alexander and equalities spokesperson Lynne Short spoke to the Tele about the new rule – part of a number of measures announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday, in the fight against coronavirus.
Face coverings must be worn in shops, although some people with underlying health conditions are exempt from the measure.
Ms Short said the public should be “understanding” that others may not have a mask on for that reason, and urged people not to jump to conclusions if they see someone shopping without a face covering.
The masks, which will be sold in shops and businesses across Dundee, follow on from the successful Sunny Dundee campaign – which saw thousands of pairs of sunglasses handed out to locals, business and visitors in 2018, used to promote Dundee’s status as Scotland’s sunniest city.
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Mr Alexander, who represents the Strathmartine ward, said during the video interview: “I think the vast majority of people understand the rational arguments behind why people are suggesting we continue to wear face masks when we’re inside shops in particular or on public transport – as has been mandatory and has been the case for a number of days now.
“It’s funny because it also coincided (on Thursday) with the launch of the Sunny Dundee facemasks which have been designed by a local illustrator.
“The reality behind that was to encourage people to use face masks, because it helps protect other people and if everybody wears face masks it reduces the opportunity for the virus to continue to spread in the way it has done.
“So, it’s a really simple but practical measure. It doesn’t provide 100% coverage or 100% protection, but it does assist people.
“And, I think it also provides people with a bit of a confidence boost, so there are people who are reluctant to go out to shops, for example, because they might feel concerned that other people might not be wearing face masks. So it might reassure some people if everybody was adhering to those rules and guidance on wearing face masks.
“Personally – not necessarily with my ‘leader of the council’ hat on – I think they should have been mandatory for a period of time now.
“I’ve been wearing mine when I’ve been out and about, I think it’s just common sense, I don’t think it gives anybody any particular challenges, and I think, given everything we’ve seen, internationally and even in Leicester, more recently, it’s a practical measure that we should all get behind.”
Maryfield councillor Ms Short said: “As you said I hold the equalities spokesperson role with the council, and one of the things we have to be cognisant of as a society is that for some people, a face covering just isn’t a possibility, because of various health conditions.
“So I think that’s something that we need to remember – if you see someone who’s on the bus or who is in the shop, who doesn’t have one, perhaps they’ve got an underlying barrier that prevent them from wearing that. We have to be kind at all times, and specifically now that if we see someone (not wearing a mask), don’t say, ‘Where’s your face mask?’ – have a little bit of understanding that there may be a specific reason that they’re not wearing it.
“I did a little bit of interview on Wednesday, and I wore my face mask throughout the interview, and I did a piece to Facebook, and it was actually really resounding, the positivity that I got from that. People were saying, ‘Thanks, for showing and leading the way’.
“People are being called ‘sheep’ and things, for wearing them, outwith the announcement (on Thursday), but my kind of ‘day out’ for the last number of weeks has been a trip down to Morrisons, and I’ve been wearing that for a number of weeks now. Each time I’ve been down I’ve been trying to take a photograph down there, wearing it.
“So, I think, as John said, it’s not about you, it’s about the people that you meet and showing them respect.”