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Face masks for the general public

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh (1980, Medicine), OBE, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, has published several reports on the importance of wearing face masks for the general public.

In April, Professor Greenhalgh published a report arguing that we should implement the precautionary principle, advising the wearing of face masks for the general public before randomised control trial evidence. She has also appeared on Newsnight promoting the use of masks as well as on BBC Radio London and BBC Radio 4, among others.

Professor Greenhalgh responded to the announcement to make face masks compulsory in shops, “I very much welcome this news. It made no sense to mandate face coverings on public transport while not requiring them in other crowded and poorly-ventilated indoor spaces such as shops and supermarkets.”

She continued, “What we now urgently need is proactive use of behavioural science techniques to inform a public information campaign to overcome weeks of mixed messages and shift the ethos of this policy from something that is ‘enforced’ and ‘policed’ to an exercise in common sense and social solidarity. Masking is a symbolic practice as well as a public health intervention. My own team and also Melinda Mills in Demography (among many others) have done research on this topic; we’d be happy to help make this policy a success.”

You can read Professor Greenhalgh’s full report on face masks on the British Medical Journal website and her rebuttal to criticisms of face coverings for the public on Wiley Online Library. Professor Greenhalgh also has an active presence on Twitter. You can read about other studies the University has undertaken about face coverings here.

Published: 22 July 2020

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