The UK public will have to be “much more careful” in winter to avoid a second spike of coronavirus, Matt Hancock has said.
The Health Secretary told MPs that, as there are signs the virus spreads more easily in colder temperatures and at that time of year many will spend more time indoors, people “must remain vigilant”.
Mr Hancock also confirmed that he will look again at the guidance for whether the public should wear face masks in supermarkets and retail shops.
Making a statement on Covid-19 in the Commons, Mr Hancock was pressed on the likelihood of a second wave.
Tory James Sunderland (Bracknell) said: “We have heard much in recent weeks about the risk of a second wave.
“Could the minister please outline the current silence on that and, indeed, outline when we might be most at risk.”
Mr Hancock replied: “The policies we’ve put in place with the local action are precisely targeted to reduce the risk of a second wave nationally.
“Nevertheless, as we turn to winter and the weather gets colder, there are signs of some seasonality in this virus, meaning that we will have to be much more careful both because of the potential impact on how easily the virus transmits, but also because of changes of behaviour because we know outdoors is safer and it is just harder to be outdoors in winter.
“So we must remain vigilant as a country.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) called on the Government to reconsider whether it should be mandatory to wear face coverings in shops.
Mr Betts said: “One, would he (Mr Hancock) look at some scheme for issuing a pass or a badge to those who have an exemption from wearing a face mask on public transport so those who aren’t exempt can be required to wear them?
“And secondly, will he look again at the lack of any advice about wearing face masks in supermarkets and other shops? Because surely it is just as easy to catch the virus in a supermarket queue as it is on the bus.”
Mr Hancock replied: “Yes and Yes.”