Councillors can keep their masks off in meetings

MPs have been told to cover up in the Commons

Thursday, 4th November 2021 — By Richard Osley


Labour councillor Simon Pearson was one of very few members to wear a face covering at the last all-member meeting

COUNCILLORS have been told they can stay mask-free while they are seated in the Town Hall chamber – despite orders at Westminster for MPs to cover up their mouths and noses again.

A new request for face coverings to be used in the House of Commons was circulated this week due to a rise in Covid infections, but the council retains the view that they should not be compulsory for sessions like the regular all-councillor meetings.

They will be worn when people walk around the Crowndale Centre, however – the building which is being used as a temporary venue for council meetings while the Town Hall in Judd Street is refurbished.

At the last all-member meeting, only three or four members kept their Covid masks on during the debates. Councillors are no longer standing when they make contributions.

Town Hall leader councillor Georgia Gould and others sit maskless

“Our advice to everyone attending council meetings remains that they should wear masks inside the building except when seated in the meeting room unless they are exempt,” the council said yesterday (Wednesday).

“Further guidance and other measures in place include limiting the capacity in meetings rooms and livestreaming all public meetings, and hand sanitiser stations are available at various locations in the building including at entrances.”

Attendees are strongly advised to take a free lateral flow test before meetings, a statement added.

The Houses of Parliament were identified by the UK Health Security Agency as a site at risk of spreading the coronavirus.

After weeks of crowded debates with rows of Conservative MPs not wearing masks in the Commons, prime minister Boris Johnson wore one during last week’s budget session. Jacob Rees-Mogg remained a notable exceptio

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