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Culture minister says she wears face mask ‘all the time’

UK News | Published:

Caroline Dinenage said ‘a lot’ of her colleagues had taken to wearing face coverings, as the wait goes on for the Prime Minister to wear one.

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said she wears a mask “all the time” as the Government came under pressure to answer why more senior figures had not been pictured wearing face coverings.

Questions were raised on social media this week about why Chancellor Rishi Sunak, following his summer economic statement, was pictured serving food to customers at a Wagamama restaurant in central London without a face covering.

Government recommendations as part of the “one metre-plus” guidance are that measures such as wearing a mask should be taken if people indoors cannot keep two metres away from each other.

There have also been no public sightings of Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a mask.

Ms Dinenage, when asked if she had worn a covering since the coronavirus pandemic started, said she regularly wore face masks made by her son and that she had posted an image of herself wearing it on social media.

To mark face masks being made mandatory on public transport last month, the Tory MP tweeted a picture of herself on June 5 while wearing a cloth covering.

Ms Dinenage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I wear mine all the time.

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“I have a fashion design student as a son who has run me up a few on his sewing machine and I wear them all the time.

“A lot of us are out there wearing them as we go about our daily lives.”

Ms Dinenage said “you’d have to ask the Prime Minister and the Chancellor” when questioned why neither of the highest ranking ministers had been photographed wearing a covering in public.

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She said “lots of my colleagues” had taken to wearing a face covering, adding: “If the scientific evidence proves that it (the guidance on masks) definitely is something that needs to change, then of course we will.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been seen wearing a mask while visiting a hospital, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also wore one while attending a gallery this week.

As of Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has changed the rules, making it compulsory for shoppers to cover their face with a mask or similar garment in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, wearing a Tartan face mask during a visit to New Look in Edinburgh (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

When asked whether ministers had considered introducing a similar rule for England, Ms Dinenage told the BBC: “Yes of course, and they are mandatory on public transport.

“But we have said face coverings in closed spaces is advised, but people can use their own discretion – but of course we will keep this under review.

“This is a topic upon which scientists tend to have rather different views so we are looking at it as new scientific studies emerge.”

Downing Street has said the guidance on wearing face coverings in public is being kept under review.

“We have kept advice on face coverings under review. If people find themselves in enclosed spaces and choose to wear a mask we encourage that,” a spokesman said.

“There is evidence that they can help minimise the transmission in those who are asymptomatic and don’t realise they have the virus but it is no substitute for good social distancing practices.”

The comments come as the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested more than half (52%) of adults in Britain who left their home in the week before being surveyed had worn a face covering.

The survey was conducted between July 2-5 and is up from the previous week, when 43% reported doing so.

The president of the Royal Society this week recommended that everyone should wear a face covering in public to reduce the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Professor Venki Ramakrishna said people should wear a mask when they leave home – particularly in enclosed indoor spaces – but acknowledged that the public remain “sceptical” about the benefits.

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