Dominic Raab Is Still Refusing To Accept WHO's Advice About Wearing Face Masks

"We take the scientific advice very seriously," the deputy prime minister promised.
Dominic Raab sidestepped the WHO's advice over mask-wearing on Wednesday
Dominic Raab sidestepped the WHO's advice over mask-wearing on Wednesday
Twitter @SkyNews

Dominic Raab tried to defend the government’s decision not to make face masks mandatory in any setting during an interview with Sky News on Wednesday.

Despite growing concerns about soaring Covid infections across Europe and the spike of positive cases which usually arrive in winter, Downing Street has repeatedly refused to impose any social restrictions since the UK came out of lockdown in July.

Sky News host Kay Burley made the case for compulsory face masks and said: “If we all just wore a mask when we were out and about, according to WHO, it would save 160,000 lives between now and next spring [in Europe].”

WHO is the World Health Organisation which has been advising world leaders on coping with Covid throughout the pandemic.

Raab replied: “We take the scientific advice very seriously.

“Of course we’ve got SAGE [Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] and the other groups that advise us on it and of course there’s a place for masks, and I’ve talked to you about how I think a bit of common sense comes into this.

“But I think we have the balance right now, and we will stay vigilant on this.”

Burley pointed out: “Yeah but the boss doesn’t, does he?

“How many times have we seen photos of him of late where he hasn’t got his mask on? The last time was on a train.”

The Sky News host was referring to Boris Johnson’s apparent refusal to wear a face mask in a range of settings, including a hospital ward, a crowded train and on a chair next to 95-year-old national treasure Sir David Attenborough at COP26.

Raab smiled in response and said: “Snappers are very good at catching that – all I can tell you is I’ve seen him wearing a mask.”

Burley said: “Well, he should wear a mask [more often] and then he wouldn’t get caught out would he?”

But Raab just maintained that he personally had seen the prime minister wear a mask and said he believes Johnson is very “conscientious” about the guidelines.

The website actually states: “We expect and recommend that members of the public continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. For example, on public transport.”

Still, Raab continued: “Fundamentally we’ve got a group of scientists who advise the government, they can test the different views very closely among themselves.

“They then give us a range of options and we follow that advice – and the advice at the moment is that the balance is right.”

Johnson is not the only minister to have caused a stir by dodging mask-wearing advice recently – while health secretary Sajid Javid has advised the public to cover their faces in crowded indoor areas, many on the Tory benches have chosen not to.

Ministers have also claimed that wearing a mask is a personal choice and so masks remain optional for MPs in Westminster, although they are compulsory for all parliamentary staff.


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