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London Mayor Sadiq Khan urges retailers to sell non-medical face masks

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

London, May 22 (UITV/IANS)- London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on all major retailers across the UK capital to sell non-medical face mask in all of their stores to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move came as the government has recently updated its guidance on the use of face coverings, advising the public to wear them in enclosed public spaces where it is difficult to maintain a safe distance from others, such as in shops and on public transport, reports Xinhua news agency.

On Thursday, Khan made it clear he wants everyone using London's public transport, including underground trains and buses, to wear a non-medical face covering for the entirety of their journeys.

The Mayor has written to London supermarkets and other retailers urging them to stock reusable, non-medical face coverings in all of their London stores at a price point that makes them accessible to all Londoners, according to an official statement.

"Londoners have shown that they want to do everything they can to slow the spread of this virus, and the wearing of non-medical face coverings will be essential as the lockdown begins to end, particularly for those who have no option but to use public transport," said Khan.

"I want to work with London's retailers to now go even further -- ensuring they can supply reusable, non-medical face coverings in an affordable and accessible way for all Londoners," he said.

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), which represents thousands of businesses across the UK ranging from single retail outlets to large department stores, is also urging its members and the wider retail sector to stock up on re-usable face coverings to keep the public safe during the transition out of lockdown.

Both the Mayor and Bira have reiterated that coverings for public sale should not be medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE), to prevent any risk to supplies being diverted away from health, care and other key workers on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic.