MPs will be ‘named and shamed’ for not wearing face mask in Parliament – union

A union representing civil servants said it plans to “name and shame” MPs who refuse to wear face coverings in Parliament once legal requirements are dropped next week.

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said he would be writing to MPs warning them that his union was willing to “call out” those ditching their masks, even after coronavirus-related restrictions have been lifted on July 19.

The Prime Minister has announced that from Monday, legal mandates in England to wear masks in some public settings will be scrapped, with the onus instead placed on personal responsibility.

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has written to MPs explaining that they will be “encouraged” to continue wearing the coverings until July 22, when Parliament breaks for its summer recess.

However, the elected politicians cannot be forced to continue using them while in the chamber or elsewhere.

Currently, MPs who are not exempt must have their face covering on when not speaking in a debate in the Commons, while it is also recommended that they are adorned when moving about the estate.

But, with all other staff on the Westminster estate to continue to be required to wear masks while moving around the premises after July 19, the FDA said it will be putting pressure on MPs to follow suit.

The union representing senior civil servants said MPs who ignored the Speaker’s advice were “willingly putting parliamentary staff at risk”.

Mr Penman called it “extraordinary” that authorities in Parliament could not force MPs to wear face coverings, despite considering it necessary, and urged politicians to continue using them to keep staff safe from infection.

“Parliament is a historic building with notoriously bad ventilation,” said the union chief.

“We fully support the decision to require House staff to wear face coverings to help protect their colleagues and parliamentarians from increased risk of spreading Covid-19.

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“It is extraordinary that Parliament can recognise this important public safety measure is necessary, but find no means to enforce it with MPs themselves.

“In these circumstances, MPs who fail to wear masks in the House and are not exempt are doing so in the full knowledge that their actions potentially increase the risk of Covid-19 infection to their parliamentary colleagues and House staff.

“Such action needs to be called out and, as such, we will write to those MPs making clear that their actions are undermining the health of the dedicated public servants who support them and making public the names of those MPs who undertake this reckless action.”

Boris Johnson has previously signalled that he would be prepared to continue wearing a mask in a crowded place, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he would not feel compelled to put one on while sitting in an empty train carriage.

Other Cabinet ministers, such as Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, has spoken of his desire to stop wearing a face covering after so-called “freedom day”.