Boris Johnson has refused to commit to wearing a face covering in parliament despite an appeal by health secretary Sajid Javid for Tory MPs to mask up when they are in the House.
One rule for them
After Conservative MPs were seen crammed on the Commons benches, almost all with faces bare, Javid urged them to set an example to the public in order to avoid the need for tighter coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions over the winter. But speaking to reporters during a visit to a vaccination centre in West London, Johnson sidestepped a question about whether he would now wear a mask in Parliament, in line with his own government’s guidance.
I think there are lots of steps that we need to take to continue to follow the guidance. So commonsensical things, washing your hands, wearing a mask in confined spaces where you are meeting people that you don’t normally meet. That’s sensible.
Undermining public trust
Johnson’s refusal to commit to wearing a mask himself came as scientists advising the government warned the failure of public figures to follow official guidance risks undermining public trust. A paper by the Spi-B group of behavioural scientists noted that a return to mandatory face coverings in public places in England was one of the elements in the government’s Plan B if the situation with the virus worsens over the winter. It noted:
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
It would also create expectations for public figures serving as role models to demonstrate adherence in the required settings. Trust can be eroded by unclear and inconsistent messaging (and) government officials and role models not engaging in behaviours in line with guidance.
The paper said there was already “public confusion” over the effectiveness of masks and that a return to mandatory face coverings could lead to “lack of compliance and confrontations”. It added:
Some members of the public may resist reintroduction of mandatory face coverings and changing perceptions of risk may empower anti-authoritarian narratives or prompt public protests
During his visit, Johnson said he saw no need for a return to a full lockdown with shops and other premises closing over the winter, despite coronavirus cases continuing to rise. He said:
I’ve got to tell you at the moment that we see absolutely nothing to indicate that that’s on the cards at all
The PM confirmed consideration was being given to reducing the minimum gap between the second vaccine dose and the booster from six months to five in order to step up the pace.
Support us and go ad-free
It is an important question. I think a lot of people are looking at that issue
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.