After Boris Johnson appeared for the first time in a shop wearing a mask, Michael Gove asserted on Sunday that such coverings should not be made mandatory in shops. Last week it was “build, build, build” this week it’s “confusion, confusion, confusion”. What a surprise!
There is indeed a debate to be had about mask effectiveness. But much in the Johnson government is now driven not by science but by politics. I suspect the confusion derives from embarrassment over the clarity and leadership being seen in Scotland.
With face coverings in shops mandated and regular announcements in supermarkets reinforcing that message, the Scottish government are serious about dealing with the pandemic.
Could it be that the London government don’t wish to be seen following Scotland’s lead, no matter how sensible it may be?
Those who criticise the apparent inconsistency of requiring a face covering in a shop but not in a restaurant or pub miss the point. There is much that is still unknown about how Covid-19 is spread, but it is obviously sensible to use all available practicable means to reduce transmission risks.
This means distancing as far as possible and wearing face coverings indoors in busy premises, where possible. It is easy to wear a mask in a shop, but clearly impossible while eating and drinking. The concept of “as far as is reasonably practicable” is very familiar to health and safety practitioners.
Bury St Edmunds
I am currently in quarantine for 14 days after returning to the UK from Malaysia – a country that has had a total of around 8,700 cases and 122 deaths and a country the Foreign Office says Brits can travel to now.
The reason given for quarantine is that Malaysia has not formed a mutual air bridge travel agreement with the UK. Why should they, when Malaysia has handled Covid-19 so well, while UK numbers and handling of the situation is so embarrassingly awful?
People returning from countries with very low numbers should not need to quarantine. Decisions should not be based on the premise that ”if you won’t let us into your country without quarantine then we won’t let you into ours”. That’s plain childish and not good for the economy.
We call on the government to urgently intervene on behalf of Bahraini victims Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa, who will have the final appeal against their death sentences heard on 13 July 2020. Mohammed and Husain were sentenced to death in 2014 for allegedly killing a policeman, after they said they were tortured into providing false confessions.
British taxpayers fund training for Bahrain’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and ombudsman, institutions charged with investigating torture allegations. The SIU’s investigation has been condemned by independent experts at the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims as “seriously flawed”. Nonetheless, in January Bahrain’s High Court of Appeal reimposed death sentences on the two men, ruling that their torture allegations had been thoroughly investigated.
The UK government has consistently failed to criticise due process violations in their trial or acknowledge abuses Mohammed and Husain have suffered. Just last week, the Foreign Office said it “welcomed” the work of SIU and ombudsman.
The persistence of torture allegations, and the significant rise in the use of the death penalty since 2017 in Bahrain show that this soft-touch approach has not worked and a further 10 inmates are at imminent risk of execution.
As the Foreign and Commonwealth Office acknowledges, this is an important test case of whether UK security assistance to Bahrain delivers on its promise to protect human rights in the kingdom. With days to save Mohammed and Husain’s lives, ministers must act to ensure their torture allegations are independently investigated and they are granted a fair trial.
Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour; Hilary Benn MP, Labour; Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour; Kim Johnson MP, Labour; Clive Lewis MP Labour; Andy Slaughter MP, Labour; Zahra Sultana MP, Labour; Alistair Carmichael MP, Liberal Democrat; Wendy Chamberlain MP, Liberal Democrat; Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat; Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat; Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat; Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat; Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat; Jamie Stone MP, Liberal Democrat; Ian Blackford MP, SNP; Martyn Day MP, SNP; Allan Dorans MP, SNP; Margaret Ferrier MP, SNP; Neale Hanvey MP, SNP; Chris Law MP, SNP; Angus Brendan MacNeil MP, SNP; Stewart Malcolm McDonald MP, SNP; Carol Monaghan MP, SNP; Brendan O’Hara MP, SNP; Alyn Smith MP, SNP; Richard Thomson MP, SNP; Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party; Ben Lake MP, Plaid Cymru; Liz Saville Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru; Hywel Williams MP, Plaid Cymru; Stephen Farry MP, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland; Sammy Wilson MP, Democratic Unionist Party; Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Green Party; Lord Collins of Highbury, Labour; Baroness D’Souza, crossbench; Lord Dholakia, Liberal Democrat; Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Labour; Baroness Hamwee, Liberal Democrat; Lord Hylton, Labour; Baroness Jones of Mouslecoombe, Green Party; Lord Jay of Ewelme, crossbench; Lord Judd, Labour; Baroness Northover, Liberal Democrat; Lord Scriven, Liberal Democrat; Baroness Tonge, non-affiliated
No Lone Ranger
The presidential mask has finally appeared – but Donald Trump doesn’t look like the Lone Ranger!
The use of the presidential seal on the side of the mask is amusing, if not inappropriate given what the seal symbolises. We already knew it was him and it would take a much bigger mask to cause any doubt and also a hat to hide the remaining presidential hair.
It’s about time he wore a mask as unfortunately some people listen to him rather than to medical experts such as Dr Anthony Fauci.
Leadership does require some sacrifices but wearing a mask is not one of them. Let’s see him hidden behind a mask for the moment, before he is hopefully hidden from view by the 2020 electoral results.
As a country we have moved beyond satire and even farce lies behind us. There is only tragedy ahead.
The tragedy is that we now have so little experience, competence and judgement among our government members that Dominic “follow your conscience” Cummings and Chris ”failing” Grayling are tipped for key oversight on national security.