Jacob Rees-Mogg has said Conservative MPs do not need to wear face masks in the Commons chamber because they know each other and have a “convivial fraternal spirit”.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, yesterday said MPs should be “setting an example” for the public.
But speaking in parliament on Thursday, Rees-Mogg dismissed calls from Labour and the SNP for Tory MPs to wear masks while sitting on the benches.
“The is no advice to wear face masks in work places,” he said. “The advice on crowded spaces is crowded spaces with people you don’t know. We on this side know each other.”
He added Conservative MPs were “following the guidance” of the government and had a “convivial fraternal spirit.”
More Tory MPs appeared to decide to wear a mask while in the chamber today than have done on previous days.
At a Downing Street press conference yesterday, Javid warned the public that Covid cases were rising and restrictions could be reimposed.
In a toughening of the language from government, the health secretary urged people to meet outdoors where possible, wear face coverings in crowded enclosed spaces and take frequent rapid Covid tests.
Javid also told reporters it was “a very fair point” to note that while the government was telling people to wear masks, many Conservative MPs were not. “As I say, we’ve all got our role to play in this,” he added.
“We, the people standing on this stage, we play our public roles as secretary state, as someone from the NHS, as the head of UKHSA. But we also have a role to play in setting an example as private individuals as well, and I think that’s a very fair point, and I’m sure a lot of people will have heard you.”
Earlier today, health minister Edward Argar said it was a “choice” and “judgement call” as to whether MPs wanted to wear a mask.