MPs ‘are set for more normal PMQs’ before summer recess with masks ‘optional’

MPs are set for a more normal PMQs before summer recess after Boris Johnson declared freedom day can go ahead on July 19. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg is keen to hold a session free of Covid restrictions on the Wednesday of that week – July 21 – just before the House breaks up for its summer recess. 

And Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is expected to lift restrictions on numbers, with masks set to become optional – although some other coronavirus rules could be maintained. 

Before the pandemic hundreds of MPs would routinely cram into the chamber for PMQ at noon on Wednesdays, but since last spring just a few dozen have been allowed to attend in person. 

Currently the limit is 64 MPs, after microphones were installed in the under galleries of the House to boost participation. 

Questions have been raised about what will happen to the rules in the Commons chamber after Boris Johnson (pictured at PMQs last week) announced most restrictions are set to be axed in England on July 19

Questions have been raised about what will happen to the rules in the Commons chamber after Boris Johnson (pictured at PMQs last week) announced most restrictions are set to be axed in England on July 19

Questions have been raised about what will happen to the rules in the Commons chamber after Boris Johnson (pictured at PMQs last week) announced most restrictions are set to be axed in England on July 19  

Before the pandemic hundreds of MPs would routinely cram into the chamber for PMQs, but since last Spring just a few dozen have been allowed to attend in person

Before the pandemic hundreds of MPs would routinely cram into the chamber for PMQs, but since last Spring just a few dozen have been allowed to attend in person

Before the pandemic hundreds of MPs would routinely cram into the chamber for PMQs, but since last Spring just a few dozen have been allowed to attend in person

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is keen to hold a session free of Covid restrictions before the House breaks up for its summer recess

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is keen to hold a session free of Covid restrictions before the House breaks up for its summer recess

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is keen to hold a session free of Covid restrictions before the House breaks up for its summer recess

Masks must be worn when members are not speaking, and there is a call list that dictates the order in which people contribute.

The temporary procedures that mean MPs can contribute to proceedings via Zoom are no due to expire on July 22.

However, Sir Lindsay is the arbiter of how business is conducted, meaning he has the final say on capacity and whether face coverings are needed.

Last night Boris Johnson signalled a ‘big bang’ end to lockdown in England, saying it was now or never for a return to normality despite the pandemic being ‘far from over’.

Legal requirements for masks and social distancing are set to be ditched from July 19, along with limits on gatherings and mass events.  

A final decision on whether to press ahead on July 19 will be taken at the start of next week but seems almost certain to be approved. 

One senior Commons source said Mr Rees-Mogg would not ‘tread on Mr Speaker’s toes’ – but would be arguing for things to go ‘back to normal’ as quickly as possible.

‘You could have a packed PMQs on the Wednesday,’ they said. ‘I expect Jacob will encourage MPs to come back. 

‘We have always moved in lockstep with the rest of the country and this should not be any different.’ 

But senior figures say Sir Lindsay is likely to maintain the call list system for the last few days of term – although the numbers allowed in the chamber would be increased.    

Although more people could be allowed into the chamber Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is expected to maintain some of the coronavirus rules until the end of term

Although more people could be allowed into the chamber Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is expected to maintain some of the coronavirus rules until the end of term

Although more people could be allowed into the chamber Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is expected to maintain some of the coronavirus rules until the end of term

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