Face covers have been made mandatory for all those working in the House of Commons except parliamentarians.
In the updated guidelines, municipal authorities said that all staff, visitors, contractors and the press must cover their faces to combat the spread of Covid.
But it is up to individual MPs to decide whether to follow suit, and many conservatives have chosen not to.
Sajid Javid said he will wear a budget mask on Wednesday when the chamber is full.
But the health secretary said Monday it was a “personal decision” for ministers and bankers if they did too.
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The parliamentarians are not employees of the municipal authorities and cannot be forced to wear masks.
They were encouraged to do so by President Sir Lindsay Hoyle, but unions representing parliamentary workers have he urged him to take a tougher line.
“The virus does not vote”
Most of the opposition parties, including Labor, Lib Dems and SNP, have decided to cover their faces during the debates.
But council leader Jacob Rees-Mogg last week said Conservatives didn’t need to do this because they knew each other well and that meant they were abiding by government guidelines.
And he said Labor MPs only wore masks when cameras were around.
The latest official guidelines says people in England should cover their faces around “people you don’t normally meet”.
It comes when the World Health Organization (WHO) urged parliamentarians to wear masks during Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget speech, when there is likely to be standing room only in the House of Commons.
Dr. David Nabarro, WHO special envoy for Covid-19, told Sky News that “everyone” should wear masks in close isolation with other people, “including our leaders”.
“This virus is absolutely unstoppable, it reaches everywhere and therefore we must do everything possible to stop it.
“And one of the best ways to stop it is a surgical mask that fits tightly to the face, placed over the nose, which covers everything and reduces the risk to others and the risk to you.
“If it works, why don’t people use it? It’s not a party politics: this virus doesn’t vote.”
- House of Commons
- Budget 2021
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Coronavirus pandemic
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