Britain is currently in its third national lockdown after a new and more infectious coronavirus variant caused the number of cases to surge. Mr Hunt, Boris Johnson’s main challenger for the Tory leadership in 2019, currently chairs the powerful Health Select Committee.
Speaking to The Guardian he said the wearing of FFP2 respirator masks, which provide better protection than standard masks, should be made compulsory in shops and on public transport.
A similar policy is already in effect in Austria and parts of Germany.
The Tory backbencher said: “Last time we waited too long before requiring masks.
“Let’s not make the same mistake again.”
Mr Hunt suggested the current two-metre social distancing guidelines might need to be extended in response to the more infectious coronavirus variant.
He also argued those required to self-isolate due to coronavirus who cannot work from home should be compensated their salary to ensure compliance with the restrictions.
He argued: “We should say that we will simply make up any loss in salary if you’re asked to self-isolate.
“People need to know that they’re not going to be out of pocket.”
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Mr Hunt suggested the Government has a mixed record in its coronavirus response.
He said: “You have to balance early failures with extraordinary success on the vaccine.”
The former health secretary also dismissed suggestions the UK lacks the money to effectively address the coronavirus epidemic.
He said: “When the NHS was set up by Aneurin Bevan in 1948 we were even more broke as a country than we were now, but the government had the imagination to do something huge.”
In total the UK has recorded 97,939 coronavirus linked deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
The R number, which illustrates Covid growth, is believed to be between 0.8 and 1.0 indicating the pandemic is currently in shrinking.