Face masks in schools: Conservative MPs expressed concern ahead of U-turn | World news

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Tory MPs expressed concern to whips and ministers before the government backs off masks in schools, after which the government decided to only partially apply face masks, Tory sources said.Sources in Whitehall informed Tuesday afternoon that the government plans to follow Scotland’s lead and impose mandatory face masks on high school students in common areas.

After rumors emerged of the reversal, at least 20 MPs, many of whom had not spoken publicly, sounded a public and private alarm to party whips, ministers and government advisers, the Guardian said.

A Tory MP said “heaps and heaps” of MPs, even those supporting masks in schools, were privately ranting about the chaotic nature of the U-turns in recent weeks and would make their views known at the conference. next meeting of the 1922 Conservative Members’ Committee. Wednesday. It is understood that the executive of the committee requested an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister as soon as Parliament returned.

Late on Tuesday night, the Department of Education announced it would be changing the advice of Public Health England – but the U-turn was only partial and made face covers for secondary school students compulsory only in areas of England which have stricter foreclosure rules. Elsewhere, it will be at the discretion of school leaders.

It was announced on Wednesday that Wales will require schools to undertake risk assessments to determine whether masks should be worn in common areas of schools where the 2 meter rule cannot be maintained, a decision criticized by some leaders.

One MP said the fact that advice in England was less strict was proof that “the system is working” after MPs voiced concerns. “I didn’t say anything publicly, but I was very clear with the whips and the ministers. ”

Conservative MP Marcus Fysh, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on education, said he was happy the government did not issue a blanket order. He demanded that masks be banned in schools and accused the government of “bending to this scientifically illiterate blunder”.

“I am delighted that the British government has not, as in Scotland, mistakenly enforced the wearing of masks in schools across the country,” he tweeted. “In addition to the other problems to be overcome with masks that the WHO [World Health Organization] highlights, there is no widespread transmission of the Covid virus at this stage in the UK. ”

Several MPs were still publicly angry on Wednesday. Huw Merriman, the chairman of the transport selection committee, said the public needed “firm government pressure” and an end to the persistent U-turns.

“I think the government needs to master our scientists. I’m sick and tired, and I think a lot of people in the audience are sick and tired, science is just changing, “he told BBC Radio 4’s Today show.” It’s confusing for many. of people, it creates uncertainty, it causes worry. People no longer know what the rules are. How can science change overnight?

“There comes a time when decision-makers need to be in control of the policy, decide what it is, be firm with it, be sure, reassure and say, ‘This is how we’re going to act.’

Others said they were concerned about the persistent U-turns. Charles Walker, deputy chairman of the 1922 committee, told Times Radio that MPs “end up scratching their heads” and said a growing number of colleagues were “very concerned.”

“What we find ourselves in right now are the biggest questions of politics, restricting the freedoms and freedoms of people with very little science attached to it … let’s discuss these issues on the floor of the House of Commons” , did he declare. “We cannot continue to have government by decree. This has been going on for six months. ”

He said there was “growing concern that they tend to change three days after Nicola Sturgeon makes a decision.”

Unions have cautiously welcomed the government’s backtracking on mask advice, although hundreds of schools have started making the unilateral decision to recommend face masks to students.

Karen Leonard, a national GMB official, said staff should never have been actively discouraged from wearing masks. “It is time for ministers to learn to listen to the concerns of school staff who will help keep our schools safe and, most importantly, open,” she said.

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