Despite the continuing and increasing rise in cases, the prime minister will also warn the public to keep wearing masks indoors, as our freedoms come with a warning. Well, joining us now is the health minister, edward argher, a very good morning to you, mr argher. If you want people to carry on wearing masks indoors, why get rid of the rule? Well? Because we think now is the right time to look at moving to step. Four – and we will subject to what the prime minister says later be issuing clear guidance. And i, like the prime minister, have trust and faith in the innate common sense of the british people to move away from having to be compelled by law. To reading that guidance. To forming a common sense judgment on the circumstances when they will perhaps wear masks or behave in a particular way and – and the question i would pose is if not now in terms of the easing of the legal restrictions. When and i say that, because we’re going to talk about all of the legal restrictions – i’m talking specifically about masks, you are making it an individual’s responsibility to wear masks, but your guidance is going to be. Please wear the mask: if you get rid of the rule on mask wearing an enforcement, it means far fewer people will wear masks, even though you want them to so. Why get rid of the rule? I trust the british people’s common sense based on guidance.
We get guidance from government from other organizations every day of our lives, we read it, we reflect on it and we form a common sense to do something, and you think that it is having an effect. Then you legislate for it, for instance, seat belts or driving on the left hand side of the road. If you want people to wear masks, why would you get rid of the rule requiring them to? We want to give people guidance, but we want them to exercise personal responsibility. We don’t think it’s necessary mind if people don’t, we don’t, think it’s necessary for that to be compulsory. But would you agree that it’s confusing it’s sending out an ambivalent message and i would suggest that it’s very similar in its ambivalence to the so called amber zones of countries where people were legally and are legally allowed to go, but for about three or four weeks After that was introduced, they were told that they shouldn’t go, so they were allowed to go but told that you’d much rather they didn’t and you talk about the public willingness to cooperate. Well, actually, a lot of people went didn’t. They a lot of people, went on holiday to ambassadors and they’re there, as we speak. Suzanna’S point is that, basically, if you remove the legislative aspect of this, fewer people are going to wear masks, and yet you want the same number of people to wear, masks and it’s a contradiction in terms that’s the point.
Well, i take the point you’re making richard, but i don’t think it’s as binary as that. I don’t think we want to continue living under a set of legally enforceable obligations rather than moving towards clear guidance and the guidance i think you’ll find later today. Secretary of state will announce it in the house later. I think you’ll see clear guidance, unambiguous guidance and people will then make a personal judgment and that’s how we live in this country. What we’ve had to do over the past year has been exceptional to meet exceptional circumstances, but i don’t think any of us would want to see that continuing in legislation for any longer than was necessary and as we see as we see the vaccination program rolling out. Very successfully and while infection rates are going up, but hospitalization rates and uh death rates, while rising, are rising much more slowly, for example than when we had similar levels of infection in january and as we approach school summer holidays and warm weather people outside. We know the virus doesn’t transmit anywhere near as well outside. This is the right moment. We think to be looking to ease those restrictions and move towards guidance, personal responsibility and also to focus in parallel on the very long waiting lists of people in the nhs as well. Well personally, and we have our personal opinions on this program personally, i i actually welcome the return of personal responsibility. I i do think that we’ve been told what to do for for long enough, and we are grown up enough and sensible enough to make sensible decisions.
And we know that 70 of the british public will have said in polls that they will continue to wear the mask, so let’s hope that that’s that’s true. Can we move to something else? This terrible story this morning about the the racist and racial abuse online to the england players. Last night after the penalty shootout, i mean quite disgusting. Messages have been tweeted, as susannah was saying earlier, not just on a one to one level, but so everybody can see them and many of them stayed up for hours before the social media companies took them down. You’Ve got a bill that’s coming into parliament. Quite soon. I think it’ll actually become law, all things being equal this time next year, which will basically give you the power to prosecute social media companies who don’t take these posts down and actually make life very difficult for them. Does that mean that if that law was in place now the people who sent these messages could be chased up as well, not just the social media companies, but that there would be prosecutions of the individuals who’ve sent these messages? Well, i i share your your anger and huge disappointment at that. Behavior i’ve listened to your piece at about five past six. This morning, when you were talking about this and i’m incredibly proud of our national team, a young team who’s done an amazing thing for our country, and i think we haven’t heard the last of them.
They will do fantastically in the future, but there is no room for racism in our sport or in our country. To your specific point, i understand that the met police have said they are looking into and investigating these online messages of racial abuse, and they will consider whether a criminal offence has been committed. There you’re right about the online safety bill, which will see um. I think up to ten percent of the revenues of a company being able to be the fine if they don’t take action to take these down and to prevent these sort of messages going up. And although it’s not lawyer, yet following your piece at 5 10 past six, this morning i spoke to the culture secretary and he’s been very clear. He’S spoken to footballers in recent months about this issue, he’s clear that the companies know this is coming, and there is no reason why, even in advance of this legislation, they shouldn’t get on with um, getting their act together and tackling this issue. And will you put more power to the police’s elbow and direct conversations as a government to the mets? I mean, for example, i see that in in may this year there were 12 men who were arrested or interviewed under caution by the met under suspicion of using words or behavior or displaying written material with an intent to stir up racial hatred. Messages of the kind we’re talking about so it can be done.
These morons can actually be identified named shamed and prosecuted. Will you be i’m, not saying leaning on the met, but will you be encouraging the met to go all the way and get these people who sent these messages last night and are still sending them this morning into court on charges? Well, richard? Well, the policing’s, a matter of the met. My personal view is very clear that i would hope they would investigate vigorously and swiftly and assume they can get the evidence. Take all the actions they are able to do within the law. There is, as i say, no place for this sort of behavior in our country or in our support in our sport and these people. Frankly, in my view, can’t call themselves sports fans or football fans, because everything they are doing goes a hundred percent against the ethos and the spirit of our national game. Do you support players taking the knee before the match? Yeah, i mean my personal view on this. Is we live in a liberal democracy that’s one of the wonderful things about our country. People should be entirely free to make their protest to make their statement um in whichever way they see fit as long as it doesn’t harm others and clearly taking the need. Doesn’T harm others. They should be entirely free to do that. These two um fans have a right to boo players who take a knee. Having seen what happens to players after matches.
Do you think that you should be more critical of the fans who boo the players who take a knee pretty patel the home secretary, said football fans have a right to boo the england team for taking the knee. She said i just don’t support people participating in that type of gesture politics. Is it gesture politics that can be booed? I think anyone in the same liberal democracy. I welcome the fact that people can make their protest by taking the knee if that’s, what they want to do. I don’t want to see our fans booing our team. I want to see them cheering our team it’s. Possibly why i’m a little hoarse this morning on your show because that’s exactly what i was doing last night, cheering them on and i frankly my message to all of our fans is we’ve got a fantastic team. It’S a young team, but it’s done amazing things already.