Loose Women’s Denise Welch has been criticised by viewers after hitting out at the reintroduction of face masks.
Face coverings are again compulsory in England in shops and settings such as banks, post offices, hairdressers, and public transport, unless people are exempt.
Hospitality settings such as pubs and restaurants are not affected.
Pupils in year 7 and above, teachers and visitors should wear face coverings in communal areas in schools, colleges and universities in England.
The reintroduction of compulsory face coverings brings England closer into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Denise embarked on a rant on today’s Loose Women where she questioned the need for face masks, despite scientists stating that they reduce transmission.
She did stress that she wasn’t denying the existence of Covid.
‘One of my questions about masks is, why are people saying “We shouldn’t have let the mandate go? We should have kept the mask mandate going completely”,’ she began.
‘Well a) Why are some of the countries that have had masked mandated outside and inside got some of the highest rates of Covid, not necessarily hospitalisation and death, but cases?
‘And the other thing, we at the moment in the UK have one of the lowest rates of hospitalisation and deaths for months and months and months, so therefore, why should we have kept the mask mandate?’
Turning to talk about the practicality of face masks, Denise continued: ‘We’re talking about pieces of cloth.
‘On the blue masks, we are told on the box, they don’t help with viruses. Also, the way we use masks, we have a cloth mask, they’re on the table, they’re in our pocket, they fall down, we pick them up.
‘They don’t help with viruses. They are as much use, the way most people us them, as a chocolate fireguard.’
The total number of confirmed Omicron cases in the UK has jumped to 14 today. On Monday, 42,583 people had tested positive for Covid, while 35 people had died, and 769 had been admitted to hospital.
Many Loose Women viewers called out Denise’s rant, with one writing: ‘I’m so angry that Denise Welch has been allowed significant air time to rant against face coverings/masks without being fact checked or having a qualified professional given equal air time on the show to put the case for masks.
‘Dangerous & shameful.’
‘Meanwhile, in the rest of the country people continue to be responsible and considerate and wear masks!’ another added.
A third raged: ‘@ITV you’re gonna have to start having a word with Denise or at least fact checking her in real-time. Some of the comments she has made throughout the pandemic on your show have been irresponsible at best.’
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV.