To ask the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what assessment the Commission has made of the risk of covid-19 spreading in the House as a result of hon. Members and staff not wearing face coverings.
The Commission is led by the current Government advice on the use of face masks and coverings.
The Covid Planning Group has assessed the potential merits of wearing face coverings. It considered the advice from Public Health England (PHE) which states that face coverings may be beneficial in places where it is hard to follow and maintain social distancing measures, e.g. on public transport. PHE advised that the only work on the estate that requires face masks for protection against the coronavirus is undertaken by the occupational health team. Face coverings are available for the security team to wear if they wish, whilst processing a person through search and screening, but they are not an essential risk control.
Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular handwashing which remain the most important actions. As hon. Members and staff can maintain social distancing and have easy access to handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser, it was concluded that face coverings were not necessary, though of course Members and staff are free to wear masks should they wish to.