Grant Shapps cleared the way for public transport operators including the London Underground to force travellers to continue wearing masks.
The Transport Secretary said he was pretty relaxed about rail, bus and Underground firms making face coverings a condition of carriage, meaning riders failing to comply can’t travel.
Facing MPs he distinguished wearing masks on packed passenger services and empty services at off-peak times, saying the latter was pointless, but he said that he would himself continue to wear a mask on the Tube, saying such a move would further heighten confidence in the network.
His comments seem to place him apart from the position of Boris Johnson, and the Prime Minister said that while it was common sense to wear a mask in restricted places like the Tube, the Government wanted to move away from legal diktat.
Emergency laws mandating face masks are expected to be removed on Freedom Day on July 19, but Mr Shapps told the Commons Transport Committee that they were looking to have arguments about it and that they were looking to be reasonable.
He said that if people are travelling, on the Underground and it’s pretty packed, the wearing of face masks may well be effective and boost confidence, and that standing right next to somebody, he believed that was one thing that he would want to do and that transport operators were free to require it, and that we’ve seen airlines do that, so we may see some transportation service do that as well.
He also said that on the other hand, if you’re travelling on a pretty deserted carriage at an unpopular time of the day to travel for three hours on a mainline or something, then it’s was rather pointless in the circumstances to potentially sit there on your own wearing a mask.
And he said that we’re moving to this next stage where people use common sense and personal responsibility to determine these things and he believed it was the sensible way forward.
Boris Johnson announced that laws requiring masks to be worn inside will be discarded on July 19, but London mayor Mr Khan has declined to say whether he will keep the rules on the Tube, while Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has demanded a rethink to protect the vulnerable.
Mr Khan said giving Londoners confidence to travel on the public transport network was key to their economic recovery.
But just days after being told that masks won’t be mandatory, we now have wishy-washy Mr Shapps backtracking again, allowing Mr Khan et cetera to implement rules we were told would not be enforced, so it looks like this is going to be another fine farce.
But good luck with that because either way, there will be millions of people who are finished with this absolute stupidity, but everyone has a choice whether or not to continue to wear a mask, and if a person is vulnerable, then those people should continue to do so if they feel unsafe, not the other way round.
Masks may have been put there to protect people, but honestly, most people don’t give a damn about anyone else, and about Grant Shapps wearing a face mask on the Tube, what did his chauffeur-driven car break down or even his own private plane?
Perhaps before Grant Shapps became Transport Secretary he would commute, but let’s face it, bit by bit Boris Johnson got his ministers chipping away at full unlock, which he never intends to happen despite his announcement on Monday.
Boris Johnson is again showing his false face, having said one thing and then getting his ministers to undermine that, so that he doesn’t look bad when the reality of what he’s backing hits and is shown to be nothing like the lie he made at the outset.