Ministers Considering Bringing Back Mask Mandates

Reports suggest that ministers are concerned by the supposed lack of people wearing face masks, despite telling Brits it is now a matter of personal choice, and are considering reintroducing mandates for indoor public spaces if “things are getting increasingly difficult in the NHS” this winter. The Mail has the story.

Ministers are now concerned by falling compliance in supermarkets, trains and buses amid rising infection levels. Yesterday there were another 37,622 Covid cases and 147 deaths.

There are also 8,098 patients in hospital with the virus – a six-month high and a rise of 6% in a week.

Although Government sources insist a mask mandate is not imminent, the fact it is being considered will concern Tory backbenchers.

They are already angry at being asked to renew the emergency Covid powers that allow ministers to impose restrictions.

A source said: “We are looking to strengthen guidance on masks if it gets to the point where things are getting increasingly difficult in the NHS.

“We expect and recommend that members of the public continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet – for example, on public transport.”

Next week the Prime Minister will publish a winter Covid plan, expected to include plans for coronavirus vaccine booster shots and the biggest flu jab roll-out in history to ease pressure on the NHS. 

But at the same time he will urge MPs to extend the 2020 Coronavirus Act which gives ministers the powers to bring back restrictions if cases rise to unsustainable levels. 

Steve Baker, Deputy Chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of anti-lockdown Tory MPs, said he would vote against any extension to “egregious” Covid powers. …

“Once again the Government isn’t willing to give up powers once they have been gained.” …

Mr. Johnson has told ministers another lockdown is out of the question and has ordered the Government to do everything possible to avoid future restrictions.

Worth reading in full.

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