A Reading Green Party volunteer and election candidate, and University of Reading (UoR) lecturer has launched a tirade against wearing face masks to combat coronavirus.

David Foster, a lecturer in the film, theatre and television department at UoR and a candidate for the Green Party at previous Reading Borough Council (RBC) elections since 2015, posted a series of tweets criticising the mandatory use of masks.

From today, masks must be worn in most enclosed public spaces such as supermarkets, banks and takeaways, while masks have been mandatory on public transport in England for more than a month.

Mr Foster tweeted: “I won’t be wearing a mask, at all, not in shops, not on public transport, nowhere.

“It’s b******t. It’s all about controlling people. Wake up!”

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According to the government, Public Health England and the World Health Organisation, when used correctly, face coverings may reduce the likelihood of someone with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic.

Police can fine those who do not wear masks up to £100 but there are a number of exemptions, which include:

  • Anyone under the age of 11
  • Those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments that make it difficult for them to wear a face covering
  • If putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress

Mr Foster, whose Twitter profile says he is a volunteering officer at Reading Green Party, said: “I will be using the exemption that doing so causes me severe distress, which is true, as it would distress me to kowtow to this coercion.”

His comments have received dozens of negative responses, slamming his “staggering irresponsibility” and ‘sheer arrogance’ and calling him “selfish”, while several have called on for the Green Party to investigate him or remove him from the party.

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Councillor Rob White, leader of the Green group at RBC, said: “We have no candidates selected at the moment, so David is not a candidate and is expressing his personal opinion.

“I strongly encourage everyone to follow the advice from Public Health England.”

Responding to comments criticising his view, Mr Foster tweeted: “There are all kinds of circumstances in which it might be sensible and reasonable and right to wear a face mask.

“These circumstances do not warrant it, and certainly do not warrant it being mandatory.”

He said mandatory face mask wearing is “a social experiment to establish, or rather consolidate, the mass compliance of the populace, which is already having frighteningly successful results”.

The UoR lecturer added that he “couldn’t care less” what the Green Party, or anyone else, makes of his decision not to wear a mask as he does what he believes is right, “regardless of what others think”.

Mr Foster has been a candidate for the Green Party since 2015, standing four times to become a councillor in Caversham.

Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Everyone must play their part in fighting this virus by following this new guidance.”