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Sajid Javid: Face masks not needed in Commons because MPs not ‘strangers’

Sajid Javid today said Tory MPs do not need to wear face masks in the packed House of Commons because they are not ‘strangers’. 

The Health Secretary also defended Cabinet ministers for failing to wear face coverings at a meeting yesterday morning. 

He said the meeting, which saw ministers sit shoulder to shoulder around the traditional Cabinet table, was ‘perfectly consistent’ with the Government’s guidance on masks.  

Mr Javid said people ‘should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people that they are not normally spending time with’.      

Opposition MPs have accused Tory MPs of being ‘cavalier’ with the health of other parliamentarians after many stopped wearing masks in the Commons. 

Sajid Javid today said Tory MPs do not need to wear face masks in the packed House of Commons because they are not ‘strangers’.

Mr Javid said people 'should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people that they are not normally spending time with'. PMQs is pictured this lunchtime

Mr Javid said people ‘should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people that they are not normally spending time with’. PMQs is pictured this lunchtime

While most Tory MPs chose not to wear face masks, most of the Opposition did wear coverings

While most Tory MPs chose not to wear face masks, most of the Opposition did wear coverings

The Health Secretary also defended Cabinet ministers for failing to wear face coverings at a meeting yesterday morning

The Health Secretary also defended Cabinet ministers for failing to wear face coverings at a meeting yesterday morning

Photographs of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting suggested that not a single minister wore a mask. 

Asked on Sky News about the meeting, Mr Javid said: ‘That is perfectly consistent with what the Prime Minister said yesterday and what I said yesterday because what we said is that people should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people that they are not normally spending time with.’ 

Asked whether Tory MPs should wear face coverings in the Commons, Mr Javid replied: ‘They are not strangers. 

‘Conservative backbenchers, whether they are in Parliament, in the chamber itself or in other meeting rooms – you have to take measures that are appropriate for the prevalence of Covid at the time.’

Asked whether people cannot catch coronavirus from their friends, the Health Secretary replied: ‘You have to take measures that are appropriate for the prevalence of Covid at the time and with the measures that we have taken with vaccines, with testing, with surveillance, sensible use of masks when required, as we have suggested yesterday which has been perfectly consistent by the way with what we said at the time we entered step four.’  

Since Parliament resumed full sittings there has been a stark difference between the number of MPs wearing masks on the Opposition benches and on the Conservative side of the House.

During his Commons statement on Tuesday, Mr Javid was heckled by Opposition MPs pointing out his unmasked colleagues as he suggested people should wear a face covering in ‘crowded, enclosed spaces where you can come into contact with people that you don’t normally meet’.

Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings branded the Health Secretary ‘trainwreck Saj’ for suggesting that ‘MPs dont (sic) need masks cos ‘theyre (sic) not strangers”.

In July, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle pleaded with MPs to continue wearing face coverings and ‘not push the limits for the sake of it’. 

Mr Johnson yesterday unveiled his Winter Plan which sets out how the Government intends to ‘manage’ coronavirus this autumn and winter. 

It contains suggestions on how people can adjust their behaviour to reduce the spread of the disease.

Only a small minority of Conservative MPs including former PM Theresa May wore masks at PMQs last week

Only a small minority of Conservative MPs including former PM Theresa May wore masks at PMQs last week

The document states that ‘it remains important for everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, to follow behaviours and actions that reduce transmission and help to keep people safe’. 

Under a list of ‘behaviours encouraged to prevent the spread’, it states: ‘Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.’ 

Mr Johnson told a press conference yesterday afternoon that the UK’s vaccination rollout means ‘we have one of the most free societies and one of the most open economies in Europe’. 

He said: ‘And that’s why we are now sticking with our strategy.

‘In essence we’re going to keep going. We will continue to offer testing. We will continue to urge everyone to be sensible, to be responsible, wash your hands, use ventilation, consider wearing a face covering in crowded places with people that you don’t know, stay at home if you feel unwell, download and use the app.’ 


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