Face masks are ‘creeping back’, MPs claim – The Telegraph

Face masks are “creeping back” into schools, hospitals and shopping centres, over a dozen MPs and peers have warned.

This is despite their “physical, psychological and environmental” consequences and the fact that they act as a “barrier” to resuming normal life, the group argued.

In a letter to both leadership candidates, the MPs said that people should be free to make their own decisions about whether to wear one and insisted that there should be no return to compulsory mask-wearing this autumn.

Their warning comes after the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change called for face masks to be made compulsory on public transport again to prevent a winter Covid wave that could put added pressure on the stretched NHS.

Rules on face coverings have not been in force since July last year, but the institute said “the strategic implementation of mask mandates should be considered for this autumn and winter” on public transport.

‘Masks prolong anxieties’

It also suggested masks should be brought back for indoor events if a new Covid variant emerges that causes a surge in hospitalisations.

“Mask policies are creeping back into daily life in schools, healthcare settings and shopping centres, despite the many serious physical, psychological and environmental negative consequences of face coverings,” the MPs said.

“Masks prolong anxieties and act as a barrier to returning fully to normal life, which must now be safeguarded after too many months of restrictions and disruption.”

The letter – signed by Tory MPs including Esther McVey, Miriam Cates, Philip Davies and Greg Smith – said it is “deeply concerning” that schools have been encouraging children to wear face masks.

Last month The Telegraph reported that several schools around the country started asking youngsters to wear masks following a spike in staff absences linked to Covid.

Letter has cross-party support

MPs who signed the letter said: “Individuals are free to make the informed personal choice to wear a face covering, but this should not be one imposed by the government or institutions with misplaced good intentions.

“We therefore call upon the final two Conservative leadership candidates to rule out future mask mandates and in particular advise against their use for children and young people.”

Responding to the letter, a spokesman for Rishi Sunak said that he “believes in personal freedom and is clear there should be no mask mandates”. However, Liz Truss’ team declined to comment on whether she would rule out compulsory face masks this autumn.

Organised by MPs on the all-party parliamentary group for pandemic response and recovery, the letter has cross-party support from Labour MP Graham Stringer and the Democratic Unionist Party chief whip Sammy Wilson.

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