Rules for Thee, Not MPs: Parliament Mandates Masks for All – Except Politicians

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle heads to the Lords chamber through the Central Lobby during the State Opening of Parliament at the Houses of Parliament on December 19, 2019 in London, England. In the second Queen's speech in two months, Queen Elizabeth …
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Mask-wearing has once again become mandatory in Britain’s House of Commons – for everyone except Members of Parliament.

Guidance published by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House, said that requiring masks in the Commons is meant to “ensure that those on the estate are safe while business is facilitated”.

Those with “legitimate exemptions” will not be included in the mandate alongside MPs, over whom the Commons authorities have no direct powers to compel mask-wearing, The Telegraph reports.

The requirement then will impact security, cleaning, and cooking staff, contractors, most journalists, and researchers.

The wearing of masks has largely fallen along political lines, with Conservative MPs largely refraining from donning the coverings in Parliament and left-wing Labour and Liberal Democrats mostly choosing to wear masks.

Despite the open displays of mask-wearing, the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, was forced to refrain from participating in Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday after he tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the Commons and a Tory MP, has argued that as there are currently no requirements for the workplace and therefore shouldn’t apply to Parliament.

“The advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don’t know. We on this side know each other,” he added, in an apparent jibe at the Labour Party, suggesting the left-wing members aren’t friends with each other.

During PMQs on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid all decided to wear masks.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that he will wear a mask because MPs should set an example for the rest of the country.

“We also have a role to play to set an example as private individuals as well,” he said.

While the recently installed Health Secretary has said that the government is not currently planning on reintroducing lockdown restrictions this winter, the government has left the door open to a return to mask mandates in a so-called “Plan B” if hospitals are overrun.

Javid has argued that average citizens must follow government coronavirus “advice” such as taking the vaccine in order to retain their “freedom”.

Criticising the minister for an apparent ‘rules for thee, but not for me’ attitude, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: “The very same day that Sajid Javid was urging the public to take steps to protect themselves against the virus, Conservative MPs were laid across the green benches, maskless and irresponsible.”

During the pandemic, there have been numerous instances of government figures not abiding by the coronavirus restrictions imposed upon the government.

A highlight of hypocrisy from the government during the pandemic was when previous health secretary Matt Hancock was forced to resign after it emerged that he had breached the very lockdown restrictions he imposed for when he had an extramarital affair with a top staffer.

Despite the violation of the lockdown restrictions, police refused to investigate Mr Hancock — a luxury which was not always afforded to anti-lockdown activists or indeed members of the public charged with breaches of the lockdown.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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