The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been criticised for a “shameless” PR stunt in which he served customers in a Wagamama branch food without wearing a mask.
Following his mini-budget in the House of Commons, he visited a Wagamama restaurant near the Royal Festival Hall and served lunch to customers. But the photo-op quickly drew outrage as he was not wearing a mask and chatted with customers while holding the plates of food.
One person said: “What the hell is Rishi Sunak doing clowning around in a restaurant without a mask?”
Stefan Simanowitz, media manager at Amnesty International, tweeted: “Wtf! Rishi Sunak invites the press to film his publicity stunt – him serving food in Wagamamas. No masks. No distancing. No screens.
“Rishi chatting while holding plate of food. Thousands of saliva gobbets would have landed on the food.”
Others were sarcastic about the lack of a face-covering.
“You’ve got to admire the practically invisible mask that Rishi is modelling in this photo. Obviously top notch British anti-viral tech at work here,” said on Twitter user.
“Sorry, what’s that? He wasn’t wearing a mask or any other PPE whilst serving food? FFS.”
Another added: “Lovely picture showing how not to social distance and not wear a mask. Super spreader Rishi.”
There were concerns that other staff working in the restaurant, including those working in the kitchen, were also not wearing any face coverings or PPE.
Oh LOOK how close you are to the customers.
You not worried in the least about catching the convirus then. No mask either.
Thanks for showing the nation what complete bullshit it all is!! 👏👏👏😂 No need to worry folks Rishi isn't worried at all about catching #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/ry4xlGqwfW— Debra Claridge (@DebraClaridge)July 8, 2020
“Given the social distancing and anti-Covid measures seen in place here, I’m never setting foot in a Wagamama again!” declared one person.
“If they can’t take a virus causing a global pandemic seriously what’s their general attitude to health and safety like?!”
Government guidance for food businesses states that the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) or face coverings are required wherever social distancing cannot be implemented.
However, it does not explicitly require servers or front-of-house staff to wear face coverings, instead advising them to maintain social distancing when taking orders and “minimising contact… at points of service where appropriate”.
The guidance also said: “As far as possible, food served and/or displayed should be individually wrapped to avoid any contamination.”
The Independent has contacted Wagamama for comment.