Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden responds to online backlash following controversial mask comment
Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner faced backlash after a local councillor Tweeted a clip of him reportedly questioning the effectiveness of masks.
Andrew Snowden, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, appeared on Sunday Politics North West alongside presenter Annabel Tiffin and Maria Eagle, the Labour MP for Garston and Halewood, on November 28.
During a discussion about the latest government measures following the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK, the subject of masks and their effectiveness was raised.
Maria Eagle began by saying "while it's encouraging that some measures have been taken" to slow the spread of the new Covid variant, "the announcements made by the Prime Minister were very minimal."
"He hasn't even reintroduced mask wearing everywhere," she added.
"That is a very sensible precaution that could actually give us the time to get to the bottom of how dangerous this new variant is."
Annabel Tiffin responded with the fact Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Britain was one of the first countries to react so quickly to the new variant.
Maria Eagle added: "That's good, but people do not understand why they have to wear a mask on public transport but not in the pub.
"They've been told to do this by the Prime Minister who has been photographed recently in a hospital, on a train and in a theatre without wearing a mask.
"He's sending very mixed signals and this is what can create problems."
After being asked if he believed Boris Johnson was sending mixed signals, Mr Snowden said: "We've got to try and balance the response to each of the varying stages of the pandemic".
Interrupting, Maria Eagle argued "mask wearing doesn't cost anything".
"That is an easy and very effective way of making sure you reduce transmission whilst we get to grips with how dangerous this variant is," she added.
In response, Mr Snowden said he was "not as convinced about the effects of mask wearing" but he will follow government guidance and wear one "where he is required".
Labour Councillor Erica Lewis Tweeted to say she was "shocked" to hear the Commissioner questioning the effectiveness of masks following the interview.
"The role of masks in reducing transmission is well established," she said.
"To say otherwise is reckless and risks lives."
Followers quickly began to Tweet their opinions on the matter, with many taking issue with the comment.
One wrote: "People like that should be sacked.
"It is time we had a criminal law against spreading misinformation about the pandemic."
Another said: "It certainly undermines those of us who take it seriously, mind you when his leader does not wear a mask in hospital this is what we get."
Coun Lewis added: "Absolutely I'm just disappointed that the best he can manage is grudging compliance (which as you say is an improvement on the PM) accompanied by a statement undermining the public health messages."
When asked about Mr Snowden's comment and the public response to the Tweet, a spokeswoman for the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner's Office said the quote had been "taken out of context".
She said: "The quote has been taken out of context as Councillor Lewis has used a three second clip of a 30 minute interview.
"Through the course of the interview the Commissioner talked about the importance of the government needing to act on the discovery of the new variant.
"The effectiveness of short term measures, including mask wearing were discussed, set against what that is likely to achieve in actually stopping the spread of a new variant, versus the impact on workers and business – highlighting concerns about the high street in the run up to Christmas.
"A few seconds later in the interview the Commissioner confirmed he would of course comply with the mask wearing guidance.
"He was simply making the point that short term interventions to tackle new variants need to strongly consider the likely effect of the measures versus the potential impact on people's livelihoods."
The full interview can be accessed by clicking HERE.
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