As the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, outlined his plan for lifting remaining Covid-19 restrictions in Parliament, I urged him to consider maintaining the requirement to wear masks on public transport and in essential shops after the 19th July. In his statement, Javid emphasised that masks will no longer be required, but would be advised in crowded and busy spaces.
Until recently, Ministers have said that decisions should be made in relation to the link between infection and hospitalisation. This link has been weakened, but it hasn’t been broken. I reminded the Health Secretary that hospitalisations are up 20% in the last week, and have doubled in a month, and asked:
“The Secretary of State has said that continuing wearing masks would be a good thing, so would he accept that requiring them, on public transport, in essential shops and similar locations would make sense and reassure people?
In response, Sajid Javid said the link between infections and hospitalisations has been ‘significantly weakened’ but did not comment on my proposals for maintaining the requirement for masks in essential public locations.
While I’m keen to get the economy going again and to improve our quality of life by reducing restrictions, people’s health must come first and be guided by the data and scientific advice.
It is nonsensical that the Health Secretary is content to scrap the requirement for masks on public transport and in essential shops, which are unavoidable for those vulnerable to severe illness, even though it has no impact on the economy, does not limit our freedoms, and reduces transmission. Rising hospitalisations from Covid will also delay tackling the backlog of treatment for other conditions.
We must continue to act together to protect people, including those who are vulnerable and have shielded, and Government must put public health ahead of political dogma.
Watch our exchange below