Rishi Sunak was criticised on social media by a former prominent Tory MP for a photo the Chancellor posted to his Twitter page on Wednesday.
In a post intended to promote the government jobs plan for struggling business, Sunak can be seen wearing a strangely modified face mask as he exits a Pret A Manger store.
Making the most of @Pret's price cut in response to the VAT reduction that takes effect today for the tourism and hospitality sectors.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) July 15, 2020
As part of our #PlanForJobs this temporary cut will help over 150,000 businesses protect the jobs of 2.4 million people. pic.twitter.com/mSh6jOvBlp
A former mayoral and Conservative leadership candidate, Rory Stewart, was quick to point out the glaring error that Sunak's face covering has holes in it and therefore is not a sufficient preventative measure.
A little guidance maybe needed on mask types - the key point of masks is to protect OTHERS from your own breathing - many masks of this type have exhalation valves - @WhichUK argues these are to be avoided because they don’t protect others - https://t.co/A2QMYj6sDZ https://t.co/HZUWCpvIAW— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) July 15, 2020
Freelance journalist Jules Mattsone also identified the face mask problem.
Netizens also caught the issue.
Yes, easier exhalation because it's allowing the breath, potentially containing the virus, straight out of the valve and into the air, thus making them fairly pointless in a 'protect others' way.— Haliborange Overdose (@Pessimisticoops) July 15, 2020
If you're wearing the mask to protect others, you might want to try one without a valve ya numpty!— Sophie Beth 😷🏳️🌈🇪🇺🇫🇷💙 (@sameoldbones) July 15, 2020
Other users joked that Sunak's mask was 'Bluetooth' in reference to a high-tech self-heating coffee mug he was seen with last week before the announcement of the mini-budget.
Don't tell me, Rishi's mask is bluetooth-enabled, keeps his face at exactly the right temperature, cost £200 and was a present from his wife... https://t.co/2zAvX3BVzU— Heather Stewart (@GuardianHeather) July 15, 2020
It was also pointed out that the government's new scheme to reduce VAT on food would not apply to his takeaway order.
This comes as the British government has introduced legislation making wearing masks compulsory in shops and supermarkets across England from the 24 July.
The United Kingdom began to reopen shops, pubs, and restaurants earlier in July as the lockdown measures first introduced to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic were lifted.