A Glenrothes MP has criticised the lack of people wearing face masks in the House of Commons after he was identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
Peter Grant, the SNP MP for Glenrothes, has taken to Twitter to say he has been “pinged” as a close contact while waiting at the airport to travel to London.
It means the politician will have to self-isolate until he tests negative for the virus.
He told followers: “I was at the airport this morning waiting for my flight to Westminster when I got ‘pinged’ and told I’d been in close contact last week with someone who has tested positive.
“Contact could only have been at Westminster, and on a day when I wasn’t even in the chamber.”
I was at the airport this morning waiting for my flight to Westminster when I got “pinged” and told I’d been in close contact last week with someone who has rested positive. Contact could only have been at Westminster, and on a day when I wasn’t even in the chamber.
— Peter Grant MP (@PeterGrantMP) September 20, 2021
Mr Grant says he has been identified as a close contact on three out of the previous four weeks where he has spent time in Westminster.
He said: “It’s a nuisance for me but what must it be like for the hundreds of parliamentary staff having to work there and seeing MPs brazenly ignoring the Covid rules?
“We now have a situation where MPs are on notice that we’ll get a telling off if we don’t wear a smart jacket but they can sit packed in like sardines for hours at a time, hardly a mask to be seen, and nobody does anything.
“It’s even worse on the parliamentary estate away from the chamber.
“I regularly see wee groups of people standing close together with nobody wearing masks.
“Some MPs who make a show of wearing a mask in the chamber take it off as soon as they’re out of range of the telly cameras.”
He has called for parliamentary authorities to “take the lead” to stop MPs “setting such a reckless example” to the public.
The MP added: “The winter Covid wave is in danger of overwhelming the NHS, just as it nearly did last year.”
The lack of masks being worn in the House of Commons was raised last week by Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart, the SNP’s shadow leader of the house.
He told MPs: “This is now getting beyond a joke. The scenes from a packed PMQs yesterday were simply a disgrace with barely a facemask on a Tory mush.”
He pointed out UK Government advice which says face coverings should be worn in crowded settings where you “come into contact with people you don’t normally meet”.
But Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the house, responded saying that MPs could avoid wearing a mask if they meet each other regularly.
The Tory MP said: “If you are in a crowded indoor space where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, wearing a face covering can help reduce the spread of Covid.
“Is it not interesting that he, and perhaps this applies to the nationalists generally, do not normally meet other MPs?
“Perhaps this is because they are not very assiduous in their attendance in the House of Commons.
“And is it not a pity that some people don’t like to come to parliament?
“And if they came a bit more, they worked a bit harder, if they put their elbows to the grindstone, wherever you put your elbows, elbows to the wheel, they might not need to wear face coverings either because they would meet members of parliament more regularly.”
Mike Clancy, the general secretary of the Prospect union, which represents some of the staff who work in parliament, said previously he was “frustrated” at the lack of face masks in enclosed spaces.
A House of Commons spokesperson said: “Our priority is to ensure a safe and functioning Parliament in line with government regulations.
“The Chamber and division lobbies are Covid-19 secure, benefitting from enhanced levels of cleaning alongside other measures – such as the monitoring of ventilation and the continuation of pass reader voting.
“The measures currently in place fully adhere to the public health risk assessment for Parliament.
“All passholders are asked to continue following the safety measures and guidance in place while on the estate, and to play their part in helping to keep the estate Covid-19 secure.”