Europe

Angry with Britain's new mask orders, Conservative voters are destroying their membership cards

Some Conservative Party voters are cutting up their memberships in response a new rule making mask-wearing in shops in England mandatory Source: Twitter: @Francis_Hoar

Conservative Party voters and members are angry with the British government's new policy making masks mandatory in shops in England.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing backlash from within his own Conservative Party after his government made it mandatory for people to wear face masks while visiting shops in England.

The policy, which was announced on Tuesday and brings England in line with many other European countries, comes into effect on 24  July.

Not long after the announcement, Conservative Party voters and members took to social media to express discontent, posting pictures of themselves cutting up their membership cards or cancelling their registrations.

The hashtag #NoMasks and the word "muzzles" were also trending on Twitter when the announcement was made.

One Conservative supporter posted a photograph of his chopped up card online and tweeted: “This is not only the most incompetent government of my lifetime, it is the most authoritarian".

One man wrote that he would "never vote for [the party] again, because of Johnson", while another described face masks as “mandatory face nappies".

Conservative MP Desmond Swayne also challenged Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Sir Desmond said the new rule was "a monstrous imposition against myself and a number of outraged and reluctant constituents".

“Nothing would make me less likely to go shopping than the thought of having to mask up,” he said.

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Mr Hancock defended the move, saying the government had tried to balance public health needs with the "ancient liberties of a gentleman to go shopping".

Former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell responded to the announcement by declaring on Twitter he would no longer go shopping.

While there has been some backlash to the move, a snap poll by UK company YouGov earlier this week found 60 per cent of Britons backed making masks mandatory, compared to 34 per cent who thought they should be optional.

Britain, which has some of the world’s highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, had, until now, taken a fairly relaxed attitude to mask-wearing.

Despite calls from many health experts, the government questioned the effectiveness of mask-wearing and the science behind it.

Many scientists have said the British government’s slow reactions throughout the pandemic have cost thousands of lives.

Mr Johnson, who spent a week in hospital being treated for COVID-19, had not been seen in public in a mask until last week.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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