Face masks have been made mandatory for everyone working in the House of Commons…except for MPs, according to new guidance released by the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
In updated guidance, the Commons authorities said that all staff, visitors, contractors and press must cover their faces to combat the spread of Covid. But it remains up to individual MPs to decide whether or not to follow suit.
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Last week Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the Commons, said that Tory MP’s did not need to wear masks because they knew each other well. He also claimed Labour MPs only wore masks when the television cameras were around.
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MSN reports: The Commons authorities do not have the power to force MPs to wear masks but can require them for all other staff on the parliamentary estate, including contractors, MPs’ researchers, catering and security staff and journalists.
The change to the guidance comes after a debate over mask-wearing in Parliament in which members of the Cabinet disagreed over whether they should be worn.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has said he will wear a mask in the chamber during Wednesday’s Budget, when the green benches will be packed with MPs.
Mr Javid has previously suggested that MPs should set an example to the rest of the country by wearing masks in enclosed spaces such as the chamber, saying: “We also have a role to play to set an example as private individuals as well.”
But Downing Street insisted mask-wearing was a “personal choice” following the relaxation of restrictions that made them mandatory in some settings.
Recent footage of Commons debates shows most Conservative MPs do not wear masks in the Chamber, whereas Labour and Liberal Democrat members do.