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The Health Secretary, who remains in the post since the Cabinet reshuffle, defended the mask-free Cabinet meeting which took place on Tuesday as he said people should wear face coverings when they meet with “strangers”.
His remark sparked furore among leading doctors as the British Medical Association (BMA) said the comment “send a message that the pandemic is over”.
The BMA said ministers should be “leading by example”.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of council at the BMA, said: “As the Government’s own health advisers recognise, we are at a critical moment in the development of the pandemic.
“For a Government which has extolled the importance of personal responsibility to show so little personal responsibility themselves is quite shocking. Ministers should be leading by example. Covid-19 is no less likely to pass between loved ones and friends than it is between strangers; it doesn’t discriminate.
“Evidence suggests that transmission within households has been a major feature of the pandemic. What is even worse is the dangerous message these comments and photographs send out to all of us as members of the public, a message that says the pandemic is over, life can go back to as it was before, and all will be well.”
He added: “The vaccination programme is making a huge difference, but it cannot work in isolation.
“Wearing face masks in enclosed crowded spaces together with adequate ventilation in shops, schools and offices are also important measures in the fight to overcome this virus.
“The Health Secretary and ministers desperately need to recognise the reality of the virus and lead by example.”
It comes after Mr Javid defended the maskless photograph of Cabinet taken on Tuesday.
He told Sky News: “What we said is that people should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people they are not normally spending time with.”
In the Commons when asked about it, he said: “They are not strangers.
“Conservative backbenchers, whether they are in Parliament, in the chamber itself or other meeting rooms, you have to take measures that are appropriate for the prevalence of Covid at the time.”