Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Mask 'shambles' escalates as police are ordered to KEEP wearing them

Mask ‘shambles’ escalates as police are ordered to KEEP wearing them on the beat – while Wales First Minister brands Boris Johnson’s optional rules an ‘outlier’

  • National Police Chiefs’ Council wants infection control measures to remain
  • Has written to all forces advising them to keep masks after Monday July 19 
  • Wales’ Drakeford said PM’s optional mask move was  an ‘outlier’ within UK
  • Scotland and Wales are to keep mask laws in place after easing lockdown 

England’s mask shambles descended further into farce today as police officers were told to keep wearing them after Monday’s end to lockdown.  

The  National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has written to all forces advising that existing infection control measures should continue, despite face coverings no longer being required by law.

It came after the Government’s own advice to businesses on reopening work premises from July 19 last night recommended bosses encourage the wearing of masks indoors.

The First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have also said they will keep laws requiring masks to be worn in most indoor settings after their loosen their own lockdowns next week.

And London mayor Sadiq Khan has already ruled that masks will be required on London transport.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said today that Boris Johnson’s decision to make masks optional in England – and rely on the common sense of the public – was an ‘outlier’ and it would be better if England followed his and Nicola Sturgeon’s example.

But Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick today insisted that as the vaccine rollout continues it is right to allow individuals and businesses to make their own judgments about what precautions to take.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has written to all forces advising that existing infection control measures should continue, despite face coverings no longer being required by law.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said today that Boris Johnson’s decision to make masks optional in England – and rely on the common sense of the public – was an ‘outlier’ and it would be better if England followed his and Nicola Sturgeon’s example.

But Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick today insisted that as the vaccine rollout continues it is right to allow individuals and businesses to make their own judgments about what precautions to take.

Police will still wear face masks after Monday, the NPCC leader said today. Chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘As employers, chief constables have a responsibility to do everything they can to keep their staff and officers safe.

‘The nature of policing means officers are often in close contact with members of the public, are dealing with vulnerable people and going into different homes. That’s why we will continue for now with our current infection control measures, like the use of face masks.

‘We also want to ensure our officers and staff are as protected as possible so they can be there for the public and we minimise the risk of large numbers either being off sick or self-isolating.’

The latest Government guidance, issued on Wednesday, says it ‘expects and recommends’ masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces as the work-from-home order ends.

Table service is recommended to continue in bars, while pubs, restaurants and nightclubs are encouraged to check vaccine and testing status as a condition of entry through the NHS Covid Pass.

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s said it will encourage customers to continue wearing masks, while the Labour metro mayors for West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, West of England and South Yorkshire said they will require mask use on public transport networks where their limited powers allow it.

London Mayor Mr Khan has said he will use his greater powers to enforce the wearing of masks on the capital’s transport network as a ‘condition of carriage’.

Communities Secretary Mr Jenrick today denied rules have become a ‘total shambles’ as ministers prepare to end lockdown restrictions in England. 

Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain he said: ‘No, I don’t accept that.

‘As a result of the vaccine rollout we are able to move into a new phase and that’s one where we all exercise our own personal judgment.

‘But also businesses and those people who are operating public transport networks, for example, will also make judgments about what is right for their settings. I think that is a sensible way forward.’   

Mr Drakeford said it is ‘difficult’ for people in England to know exactly what is required of them and he urged the Government at Westminster to stick to a four-nation approach.

‘It is the UK Government that is the outlier and if they were prepared to bring themselves into line with the decisions that have been made in Scotland and in Wales, for example, that would be clearer and simpler for everybody,’ he told Good Morning Britain. 

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