Once again, the Government is facing accusations it has flouted its own Covid-19 rules.
Boris Johnson has ‘apologised unreservedly’ over what went on in Downing Street during lockdown – without admitting rules were broken.
The prime minister said there will be a Cabinet Office investigation following the emergence of video footage showing Number 10 staff joking about a party.
Labour has accused him of treating the country with contempt and there have been calls for him to resign.
It’s not the first time we’ve been here. Throughout the pandemic, ministers and officials have faced accusations they bent the rules they expect the country to follow.
While these political scandals came and went, Covid-19 continued its grim march across the country, claiming thousands, making many more ill and disrupting lives and livelihoods everywhere it appeared.
Here’s a reminder of what was going on in the country every time the Government was accused of ignoring its own rules.
How many people were getting ill and dying while the Government broke its own rules?
- After a Covid-19 outbreak in Downing Street, an infected Dominic Cummings loaded his family into a car and drove hundreds of miles to his parents’ farm in County Durham. Mr Cummings said he was concerned about the care of his child if he and his wife became incapacitated and said essential childcare was a valid reason to travel.
- Deaths: 288
- Patients in hospital: 229
- Infections: 2,890
On April 9, it was reported then-housing secretary Robert Jenrick had travelled more than 100 miles to visit his parents the previous weekend. He defended the trip on the grounds he was dropping off essential supplies.
- Deaths: 599
- Patients in hospital: 18,855
- People on ventilators: 2,469
- New infections: 6,199
Mr Cummings was spotted in Barnard Castle, around 30 miles from the property he was staying at. At the time, people were being urged not to make unnecessary journeys and to exercise close to their homes. Mr Cummings said he made the journey to test if he was well enough to drive before making the journey back to London.
- Deaths: 657
- Patients in hospital: 21,687
- People on ventilators: 3,274
- New infections: 5,288
According to Mr Cummings, a gathering was held in the flat above Downing Street on November 13. The prime minister denied this in the Commons today but said ‘I’m sure that whatever happened the guidance and the rules were followed at all times’.
- Deaths: 376
- Patients in hospital: 16,236
- People on ventilators: 1,275
- New infections: 27,301
The Department of Education has expressed regret after it was reported staff had a Christmas gathering at work last year when Gavin Williamson was still in charge.
- Deaths: 516
- Patients in hospital: 16,723
- People on ventilators: 1,243
- New infections: 20,964
The exact details of what went on in Downing Street are disputed but several witnesses are reported as saying dozens were crammed in for the gathering and drinks and food was put on for guests. At the time London was in Tier 3.
- Deaths: 489
- Patients in hospital: 16,909
- People on ventilators: 1,364
- New infections: 28,507
Leaked footage has emerged of Downing Street staff joking about holding a ‘cheese and wine’ party and the absence of social distancing at the workplace gathering. At the time, Christmas plans were being cancelled up and down the country.
- Deaths: 691
- Patients in hospital: 21,488
- People on ventilators: 1,529
- New infections: 36,804
The infamous footage did not emerge until June but then-health secretary’s workplace snog happened in early May. At the time, his department was telling people not to hug their loved ones.
- Deaths: 12
- Patients in hospital: 1,159
- People on ventilators: 163
- New infections: 2,613
With thousands isolating because they had been pinged by the NHS app, the prime minister and chancellor of the exchequer attempted to swerve the need to stay at home for 10 days after coming into contact with Sajid Javid while he was infected.
- Deaths: 25
- Patients in hospital: 4,347
- People on ventilators: 582
- New infections: 48,161
Boris Johnson had to be asked by staff to put his mask on while inside Hexham General Hospital, despite being told more than once a face covering must be worn.
- Deaths: 57
- Patients in hospital: 9,010
- People on ventilators: 1,026
- New infections: 32,322
At a time people were still being advised to wear a mask in crowded indoor places, Boris Johnson took his off while packed in on a busy train.
- Deaths: 45
- Patients in hospital: 8,642
- People on ventilators: 989
- New infections: 40,004
*All figures taken from the official Covid-19 dashboard and represent figures on the day they were reported.
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