ENGLAND doesn’t need to make face coverings mandatory – because good manners are enough to ensure their use, Michael Gove has said.

Despite higher rates of infection and deaths in England, it has not followed Scotland’s lead in making face coverings a requirement in enclosed public spaces like shops.

Last week Boris Johnson indicated he wanted to be “stricter” on their use.

But yesterday Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said “basic good manners” are enough, stating: “I think that it is basic good manners, courtesy and consideration, to wear a face mask if you are, for example, in a shop.

“I trust people’s good sense. Now of course the Government at all times does look at the emerging evidence about what the best way to control the disease is.

“If necessary, and if tough measures are required and as we have seen in Leicester, obviously a very different situation, then tough measures will be taken. But on the whole ... it is always best to trust people’s common sense.”

The comments came as the First Minister praised Scots for complying with face covering rules here. She announced last week that from Friday it would be compulsory to wear the items in all stores.

Taking to Twitter yesterday, she wrote: “From both anecdotal feedback and my own observation from a quick visit to a couple of shops earlier, making face coverings mandatory has resulted in close to 100% compliance. Well done, Scotland – let’s keep it up.”

The First Minister has warned the law is likely to remain in force for the “foreseeable future” and said she wanted wearing a face covering in a shop to feel as natural as wearing a seat belt in a car: “The key here is for all of us as responsible citizens to do it because it’s the right thing to do. The vast bulk of the population, over almost four long, hard months, has done the right thing at great personal cost and sacrifice and that’s why we are where we are today, so let’s keep doing the right things.”

Although it is hoped that people will comply with the requirement voluntarily, police have the power to impose fines of up to £60, rising to up to £960 for repeat offenders.

Yesterday Labour MP Rachel Reeves said the compulsory wearing of face coverings in shops would be a “sensible way forward” in England. The shadow Cabinet Office minister told Marr: “People are increasingly wearing them but I think some greater clarity from government about that, I think, would be helpful. I think it would inspire greater confidence and might encourage more people to go out and spend money if they see more people wearing face masks in shops.”

Gove also urged people to return to work rather than stay at home to ensure the “economic engines of this country are fired up again”, stating: “We want to see more people back at work, on the shop floor, in the office, wherever they can be.”

That came as workers were being quarantined at a farm in Herefordshire after 73 people tested positive for Covid-19. The UK has the third highest official coronavirus death toll in the world behind more the populous US and Brazil.