UK Covid live news: Sajid Javid defends Tory MPs’ refusal to wear masks in cabinet and Commons

Good morning. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has been doing a morning interview round this morning, and he has been asked why Conservative ministers and MPs are so reluctant to wear masks. It is because when they are at Westminster they are not with strangers, he said. This is what he told Sky News when asked why no one was wearing a mask at yesterday’s crowded cabinet meeting.

That is perfectly consistent with what the prime minister said yesterday and what I said yesterday, because what we said was that people should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people that they are normally spending time with.

Kay Burley

“Can you not catch Covid from your friends?”

We asked Health Secretary @sajidjavid why there was no mask in sight in pictures of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.#KayBurley UF

September 15, 2021

And he used the same argument when asked why so few Conservative MPs wear masks in the Commons chamber (even though the parliamentary authorities say wearing a mask there is “strongly advised”). He told Times Radio:

I think people should just use their judgment. Be sensible. If you are in crowded places with poor ventilation with strangers, people that you just don’t know, people should consider wearing a mask and we’ve been clear about that from July.

But equally if you’re with people that you’re regularly with and most people are vaccinated or you’ve good reason to believe that they are, you can take a different approach.

The government’s autumn and winter Covid plan (pdf) published yesterday does advise wearing a face covering “in crowded and enclosed settings where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet”.

But Labour has mocked Javid for suggesting that people might not catch Covid from someone they know. This is from the deputy party leader, Angela Rayner.

Angela Rayner

One rule for them latest:

The Health Secretary @sajidjavid tells the British people it’s fine for Tory MPs not to wear face masks in the House of Commons because “they’re not strangers”.

Apparently you can’t catch Covid off someone you know. Right then.

September 15, 2021

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: Lord Deben, chair of the climate change committee, gives evidence to the Commons housing, communities and local government committee.

10.15am: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, gives evidence to the Lords constitution committee.

10.30am: Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, gives evidence to the Lords justice and home affairs committee.

12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

Around 1pm: MPs start debating a Labour motion saying the £20 per week cut to universal credit planned for next month should be abandoned. The vote will be at about 4pm.

2pm: Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, and other Greater Manchester leaders hold a press conference on Covid.

For further Covid coverage, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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