Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged his fellow Tory MPs and ministers to wear masks in the crowded Commons chamber as he warned further coronavirus restrictions are more likely if face coverings are avoided.
Mr Javid said public figures “have a role to play to set an example” on Wednesday, hours after his colleagues packed into Parliament for Prime Minister’s Questions, largely without wearing face masks.
He has so far resisted implementing Plan B for tackling Covid-19 this autumn, despite acknowledging cases could reach 100,000 per day.
Instead, Mr Javid encouraged people to get their booster jabs, meet outside where possible and put on masks in crowded spaces.
But the Health Secretary was told at a Downing Street press conference that Conservatives in particular were seen without masks in the Commons, leading the Government open to allegations they are not practicing what they preach.
“I think that’s a very fair point,” Mr Javid responded, saying Secretaries of State and health leaders “have all got our role to play in this”.
“We also have a role to play to set an example as private individuals as well, I think that’s a very fair point and I’m sure a lot of people will have heard you,” he added.
Earlier in the day, unmasked Cabinet ministers surrounded Boris Johnson in the Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions.
Most backbench Tories also shunned coverings in the packed chamber, with opposition MPs being far more likely to be wearing masks.
At the press conference, Mr Javid “it’s going to hit us all” if individuals do not take part in currently voluntary measures to tackle Covid-19 such as wearing masks.
“And it would of course make it more likely we’re going to have more restrictions. Now we want to avoid those,” he added.
The legal requirement for people to wear a face covering in most indoor settings such as public transport, shops and hospitality ended on July 19.