Jacob Rees-Mogg today refused to listen to a plea by House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to wear a face mask in the chamber.
When England’s coronavirus lockdown – including the legal requirement to wear masks indoors – ended on Monday, Hoyle had urged MPs to carry on wearing masks in the chamber and “not push the limits for the sake of it”.
However, Rees-Mogg, who is leader of the Commons, did not wear a mask as he sat on the government front bench during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday.
According to HuffPost politics editor Paul Waugh, Rees-Mogg was one of 17 Tory MPs not wearing a mask during the debate.
Watch: Where do I need to wear a mask now restrictions have eased?
On the other side of the chamber, each opposition MP was said to be wearing one.
The government is continuing to advise people to wear masks indoors.
Downing Street issued a gentle rebuke to Rees-Mogg and his fellow unmasked MPs after PMQs.
Boris Johnson’s press secretary said: “I think the prime minister has been clear about the importance of wearing masks in enclosed settings where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet.”
Hoyle had said on Monday that he was “very worried” about the number of MPs being told to self-isolate as COVID-19 cases continue to soar.
Among those isolating are Johnson himself, chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Sajid Javid and now Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, whose isolation was announced shortly after PMQs after one of his children tested positive for the virus.
Hoyle has resisted calls to make face masks compulsory for MPs on the parliamentary estate, insisting there is “no meaningful way” he could do so.
Urging MPs to wear a mask on Monday, he said: “None of us wants to risk taking COVID back to our families, staff or constituents and I’m sure we will want everyone working on the estate to feel safe and secure, and to ensure the business of this House continues.”
In Redcar and Cleveland, currently the UK’s number one hotspot, people have pledged to continue wearing masks indoors to keep others safe.
Chip shop worker Nicky White, 53, told PA on Monday that this should not be left to individuals, adding: “If we all had common sense, the world would be a perfect place.”
Watch: Johnson labelled a ‘super-spreader’ of confusion during chaotic PMQs