Is it an act of protest, someone trying to send a message through art, or just a bit of fun?

Whatever it may be, it has resulted in the Church Street statue of Jane Austen being given a new look.

Official Government guidance says that if you can, wear a face covering or mask in enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Picture: Ophelia King

"This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example, on public transport or in some shops," the statement read.

"You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

"Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with."

Well in the heart of Basingstoke, it looks like that guidance has been take to the maximum, with the bronze statue of the English novelist being spotted last Friday with a face mask on.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Picture by Ophelia King

Now this surgical mask that was so prominently placed on the statue of the world-famous author from Steventon is different to what the Government has deemed a 'face covering'.

In fact the guidance says that surgical masks "should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards."