Tory MP wears mask in supermarket but not Commons as he doesn’t trust public to get tested

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown says he asked for ‘lighter touch’ in response to pandemic

Emily Goddard
Sunday 19 September 2021 01:51 BST
The government advises people to wear face coverings in crowded places
The government advises people to wear face coverings in crowded places (PA)

A Tory MP has said he wears a mask in supermarkets but not in the House of Commons because he does not trust non-politicians to get tested for Covid.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the treasurer of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, said he wore a mask in the chamber when it was compulsory to do so but wouldn’t again unless government guidelines changed forcing their use.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster on Saturday, Sir Geoffrey said he’d consistently asked for “a lighter touch” in response to the pandemic and would be reluctant to see another lockdown.

But he said he wears a mask in supermarkets, and not in the Commons, adding: “I would trust my colleagues that at the moment they felt ill, they would go in for a [Covid] test, whereas I wouldn’t be so sure with everybody in the supermarket.”

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who was also on the programme and said she does wear a mask, said it was wrong to suggest the public would not get tested for Covid.

“My experience is that people are doing the right thing,” she said. “We’re all equally vulnerable, and we all play our part.”

Sir Geoffrey replied that it only takes one person not to get tested.

“The odd MP has been the only one in other situations,” Ms Moran said. “We haven’t been immune.”

Mask wearing is no longer compulsory in England, but the government advises people to continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson refused to rule out the reintroduction of restrictions as he laid out his winter pandemic plans.

The prime minister’s “Plan B” could see mandatory face masks, Covid passports and guidance to work from home brought back in the case of an upsurge in cases, admissions and deaths.

The announcement came as the government’s scientific advisors warned ministers that hospital admissions could soon rise beyond the peak seen at the start of 2021 to as many as 7,000 a day without introducing fresh measures.

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