British MPs are being asked to wear masks while on the Parliamentary Estate after recent increases in Covid-19 infections, weeks after the politicians were criticised for failing to don masks despite urging the public to do so.
A parliamentary spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that politicians have been told to wear face coverings to reflect the risk posed due to “recent increases in Covid
across the country,” with the measures set to be reviewed in two weeks’ time.
Chairs of parliamentary committees are also urged to use their position to encourage MPs to comply with coronavirus
safety protocols, such as mask wearing.
“The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has determined that the risk of transmission on the Parliamentary Estate is now greater,” the spokesperson said, adding that “further action is being taken to ensure that case numbers do not continue to rise.”
The decision to ask MPs to wear masks comes days after parliamentary staff were ordered to wear face coverings on the estate, with guidance stating that face-to-face meetings “should be avoided unless there is a business need.”
As MPs are not employees of the parliamentary estate, they cannot be directly forced to wear masks, but Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Commons authorities will urge politicians to follow safety protocols.
Earlier in October, MPs came under fire for hypocritically issuing guidance to citizens to wear face coverings in public places, despite some politicians not wearing masks during parliamentary debates. UK Health Minister Edward Argar defended the decision at the time by arguing politicians have the right to make an “informed view.”
In recent months, many Conservative MPs stopped wearing masks in the House of Commons, while opposition Labour MPs were seen without face coverings during their recent party conference.