Conservative MPs should be able to decide for themselves whether to wear a mask in the House of Commons, a health minister said.
Edward Argar said his colleagues should form an “informed view” on applying government guidelines for wearing one indoors.
It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people in England to cover their faces in “really crowded” areas.
Conservative MPs have largely ditched their masks during debates in recent months.
Many other opposition party MPs have worn masks in the House of Commons since in-person sessions resumed over the summer.
The government is still encouraging people in England to wear face covers in “crowded and enclosed spaces”, although it is no longer mandatory.
- MPs should lead by example on masks, says Javid
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- Where are face masks still mandatory in the UK?
On Wednesday, Javid said wearing the mask is one of a number of measures that could help reduce Covid transmission during the winter.
Speaking at a Covid press conference in Downing Street, he warned that restrictions would be “more likely” to return if people “don’t wear masks when they really should.”
He said this included “very busy” places “with a lot of people they don’t normally hang out with.”
His statement came just hours after MPs gathered in the House of Commons for the Prime Minister’s questions.
Almost all Conservative MPs, including government ministers, did not wear a face cover during the debate.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: “It is utterly hypocritical that the public is rightly advised to wear masks while conservative MPs refuse to do so.
“Conservative MPs and ministers have a duty to lead by example and take precautions to protect themselves, their colleagues and staff.”
Asked about BBC Breakfast whether Tory MPs should cover their faces during debates, Argar replied: “There is clearly a leadership role for Members of Parliament on all sides.
“We must always think about our actions, or words, and the implications they have.
“But I think it’s up to those individual Members of Parliament to read the guide, consider it, keep in mind what Sajid is [Javid] he said, and reach their own opinions. “
He added: “There will be times when I did, there will be times when I didn’t, and I sat down [and] he has not reassembled it “.
Speaking to the Commons on Thursday, the shadow leader of the Labor Commons, Thangham Debbonaire, called on Tory MPs to wear masks to set “the best example for the public”.
But in response, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said many Labor MPs were pictured without masks at the party’s recent annual conference in Brighton.
And he joked that they were more likely to cover “when there are cameras around”.
The use of face masks is no longer mandatory under Covid laws in England, after the rules were relaxed on July 19th.
But the the government says “foresees and advises” people to do it in “crowded and closed spaces where they come into contact with people who normally do not meet”.
Unions representing parliamentary staff say their members have been told to wear masks in the chamber and have asked Conservative MPs to do the same.
The Prospect union has previously accused unmasked parliamentarians who “recklessly undermine” public health messaging and urged more rigorous masks to be worn.
GMB and Unite have invited the President of Municipalities Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who enforces the parliamentary dress code, to refuse entry to unmasked parliamentarians.
Sir Lindsay encouraged MPs to continue wearing masks during debates, but said there was “no meaningful way” to enforce it as he has no right to prevent elected MPs from entering municipalities.
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