Sammy Wilson calling a face mask a muzzle is offensive to people with disabilities, a campaigner has claimed.
The DUP East Antrim MP tweeted a photo of himself with an ice cream, commenting you can’t eat when you’re “muzzled”.
Support local business. You canât eat🍦when youâre muzzled! pic.twitter.com/sc4GHzs8ix— Sammy Wilson MP (@eastantrimmp) July 31, 2020
He went on to accuse a local councillor of “playing into people’s fears on weak evidence” by promoting face coverings.
Mr Wilson’s position goes against a plea from the Health Minister Robin Swann this week, urging people to show “solidarity” with shielders by donning a mask and pointing to “compelling” and increasing evidence of their effectiveness.
The shielding period ended on Friday.
Co Down shielder Michaela Hollywood is a ventilator user and especially vulnerable to the virus.
Her family has a “Michaela gets Covid” plan – they hope they will never have to use it.
She said people refusing to wear masks put her at risk – and made her feel unable to enjoy the freedom the new advice allowed.
She added: “How many more days of my life do I have to sacrifice for the whims of others?
“It’s insensitive and dangerous for any public representative [to make those remarks].
“Take your mask off to eat and drink if that’s what you’d like to do. But calling it a “muzzle” is dangerous and derogatory to disabled people and those at the high risk to this insidious virus.”
She said she understood it was impossible for some people to wear them, but those who could, should.
She added: “I have friends who can’t. I wear mine not just for me but for them.
“I actually have a second set of them coming to cover my valved mask.
“So if I go out I’ll actually be wearing two. It’s the responsible thing for me to do.”
Marie Tunney, whose daughter Eve has to shield, said the remarks were “appalling” and showed a lack of leadership.
She added: “Face coverings are not ‘muzzles’ or ‘face nappies’ or any of the other ridiculous terms being used at the moment.
“Is it really so difficult to wear a face covering when in shops and indoor areas so we can all protect each other?
“Do we really care so little for others in our society who r so vulnerable and also should b able to step outside their front doors and feel that society is doing its best to keep them safe?”
The DUP declined to comment.