Michael Gove has finally been pictured wearing a face mask inside a shop but he appears to be a bit out of practice.
The minister for the Cabinet Office made the mistake of tucking his glasses inside the NHS branded covering, and it inevitably had some steamy consequences.
It’s the first time Mr Gove has been spotted wearing a mask since he forgot to wear one on a sandwich run to Pret on Tuesday – despite saying it’s ‘basic good manners’ to wear one.
He even got trolled by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who had his own Pret photoshoot, complete with fetching grey mask, to promote the new safety measure.
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Asked if the government’s advice on face coverings was confusing, he replied: ‘I think that people are intelligent. I think that people can understand this is a novel virus with specific challenges. There are appropriate moments of course when a direct message to say to people “don’t do X” or “do do Y” is appropriate.
Matt Hancock added some more pressure on Mr Gove’s error by saying, ‘You do need to wear a face mask in Pret because Pret is a shop.’
The Health Secretary added to Sky News: ‘If there’s table service, it is not necessary to have a mask. But in any shop, you do need a mask.
‘So, if you’re going up to the counter in Pret to buy takeaway that is a shop… but if you go to your local pub you can’t go to the bar.’
But there was even more confusion when Boris Johnson’s official spokesman later gave an alternative explanation.
‘We will be publishing the full guidance shortly but my understanding is that it wouldn’t be mandatory if you went in, for example, to a sandwich shop in order to get a takeaway to wear a face covering,’ he said.
‘It is mandatory … we are talking about supermarkets and other shops rather than food shops.’
Mr Hancock had defended Mr Gove by saying that the photographs were taken ‘before I announced the change in policy to the House of Commons’ on Tuesday afternoon.
However, the pictures were taken on Tuesday morning, after the policy was announced in a press release to journalists.
The law change announced in the Commons yesterday afternoon came after a period of confusion, which Labour seized on as ‘days of ministerial muddle’.
On Friday, Mr Johnson said the Government was looking at ‘stricter’ rules
But on Sunday Mr Gove said he did not believe face coverings should be mandatory and that it was better to ‘trust people’s common sense’, adding that it was ‘basic good manners’ to cover up in shops.
However, the Cabinet disagreement was won by those in favour of masks, and failure to wear face coverings in shops in England can be punished with a £100 fine from July 24.
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