Hancock ‘not frankly interested’ in Gove not wearing a mask while shopping

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said he is “not frankly interested” in his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove being pictured in a shop without a mask ahead of them being made compulsory to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The senior Cabinet Office minister, who had earlier sparked confusion by suggesting face coverings would not be mandatory in shops in England, was photographed uncovered in Pret A Manger despite insisting it was “basic good manners” to wear a mask.

His maskless face was in stark contrast to that of international trade secretary Liz Truss, who minutes earlier had left the same store in Westminster wearing a blue covering.

Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Those photographs were taken before I announced the change in policy to the House of Commons yesterday afternoon.

“And it’s absolutely straightforward that from July 24 we’re making it mandatory to wear a face covering in a shop in the same way it’s mandatory on public transport and in the NHS.”

Budget 2020
International trade secretary Liz Truss was seen wearing a mask (Victoria Jones/PA)

Read on...

However, those pictures were taken on Tuesday morning, after the policy was announced in a press release to journalists.

Pressed on whether Gove does not know what the rules are or whether he wants to send a signal that he does not agree, Hancock said: “I’m not frankly interested.

“What I’m interested in is controlling the virus and we’ve got a very clear straightforward policy that has been very widely communicated and successfully communicated over the past 24 hours.”

The law change announced in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon came after a period of confusion, which Labour called “days of ministerial muddle”.

On Friday, prime minister Boris Johnson said the government was looking at “stricter” rules.

But on Sunday, Gove said he did not believe they should be mandatory and that it was better to “trust people’s common sense”, adding that it was “basic good manners” to cover up in shops.

However, the Cabinet disagreement was won by those in favour of masks, and failure to wear face coverings in shops in England can be punished with a £100 fine from 24 July.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us