Sunday, June 26, 2022

All the Covid rules in place when the Downing Street alcohol photos were taken

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The Government announced just 13 days before the photos were taken that it was returning to a strict nationwide lockdown in England, meaning all indoor gatherings between members of different households have been banned

Images published by ITV News showed the Prime Minister raising a glass and seemingly toasting a crowded room. It is reported that the event pictured was a farewell party for Lee Cain, Mr Johnson’s former communications director, on November 13, 2020.

The first photos of Boris Johnson drinking at a lockdown-breaking event at Downing Street have emerged today as No 10 prepares to release Sue Gray’s account.

The four photos appeared to show Mr Johnson delivering a speech to around eight other people gathered around an alcohol-filled table in Downing Street.

Two bottles of champagne, four bottles of wine and half a bottle of gin can be seen scattered around the table, alongside party cups, biscuits, chips and other food.

The photos have cast doubt on the PM’s repeated claims in the House of Commons that he was not aware of any unlawful parties in No 10.

At the time the pictures were taken, dealing with people outside of one’s household was illegal in England. The country had entered a second nationwide lockdown just eight days earlier.

Mr Johnson was not fined for the event in question, although he was fined a firm amount for his birthday celebration in the Cabinet Room in June 2020. The Prime Minister is said to have attended three other events for which fines have been imposed.

Here are all the Covid rules in place when the farewell event photos were taken on November 13, 2020:

The Government announced the return to a strict nationwide lockdown in England just eight days before the photos were taken. The month-long lockdown went into effect on November 5 — just over a week before Lee Cain’s farewell event.

A statement published on the government’s official website at the time said there was “no alternative to tougher national measures… as the NHS has not been overwhelmed for weeks and a higher death toll than was predicted in the first wave with no new restrictions”.

The new rules meant all indoor inter-household socializing was banned and people could only socialize outdoors with a maximum of one person from another household.

The only exceptions were for childcare and other forms of support deemed necessary.

People were only allowed to exercise or visit outdoor public places with members of their household or support bubble, or with one person from another household.

The new rules came into effect for Bonfire Night 2020, causing most Guy Fawkes events to be canceled across the country.

Gatherings in private gardens were not allowed in those days, which meant that people in England were also forbidden from putting on their own fireworks displays with others.

At the time of the shooting, people in England were expected to work from home if possible, with the government also advising people to avoid using public transport.

Ministers said it would allow front-line workers who would have to use public transport to maintain social distancing.

The government website states that “public sector workers working in essential services, including educational institutions, should continue to go to work”.

Public sector employees include people employed in central and local government.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around 40 per cent of working adults said they were working from home in the week the photos were taken from the Downing Street farewell event.

50 per cent of working adults in England now reported traveling to work either exclusively or in combination with working from home.

As with the first nationwide lockdown in March 2020, all pubs, bars and restaurants had to close completely at the time of the recording.

Establishments were allowed to stay open to only offer take-away food, while pubs were allowed to offer take-away alcohol as long as customers ordered in advance and did not enter the premises.

All non-essential retail outlets had to close at the time of a Downing Street event, including clothing and electronics stores, car showrooms, travel agents and betting shops.

Auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacconists and vape shops were also forced to close as the government desperately tried to stem a huge spike in infections in the run-up to Christmas.

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