Health Minister will still carry mask even when legal measures lifted

12 July 2021, 08:24

Health Minister Ed Argar was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast
Health Minister Ed Argar was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast. Picture: LBC/PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A Government minister said he would continue to carry his face covering around with him even after legal measures have been lifted.

Asked about the future of face coverings after July 19, Health Minister Edward Argar told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: "I suspect - and I won't pre-empt the Secretary of State when he addresses the House later and he sets out more of what you can expect to see in that guidance - but speaking for myself, I will continue to carry my face mask in my jacket pocket."

Mr Argar's comments come ahead of the Prime Minister's press conference later where it is expected Boris Johnson will announce the lifting of all remaining coronavirus restrictions.

Explained: What time is Boris Johnson's Covid press briefing today? And what will he say?

The PM is expected to say that the country can move to Step 4 of the plan to lift measures, including ending the legal requirement to wear masks.

But, there was confusion over the weekend when Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said new guidance set to be issued today would still say people were expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces, although the legal requirement to do so would be dropped.

Read more: Government will 'move away from legally set obligations' on July 19, Health Minister says

Mr Zahawi told Sky News: "I think it's important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we'll set out tomorrow will demonstrate that, including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces."

Mr Argar explained why he said he would continue to carry a face mask with him even when the legal requirement to do so was lifted.

He told Nick Ferrari: "The sort of circumstances where I would wear it, where I would encourage others to do so, are the sort of things that Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer set out a week or so again.

"If, for example, you are in a crowded train, if you are in a setting like a hospital where the relevant authority requires you to wear it, or where, as common courtesy, if you are in an indoor environment with someone who clearly feels uncomfortable with you not wearing it, it would be common courtesy to put it on then - that's how I would behave."