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No 10 says garden photo shows PM and staff having work meetings | Boris Johnson

Downing Avenue has defended {a photograph} displaying Boris Johnson, his spouse and as much as 17 staff seemingly having drinks within the Downing Avenue garden through the first lockdown, insisting they have been discussing work on the time.

The prime minister’s spokesperson stated that whereas it was a work assembly after a Covid press convention on 15 Could 2020, the very fact it occurred exterior regular work hours meant it was throughout the rules for them to be consuming wine.

The photo, shared with the Guardian, seems to point out a number of teams sitting or standing intently collectively. Nevertheless, Johnson’s spokesperson stated it was unattainable to inform whether or not or not individuals have been 2 metres aside, as was the rule on the time for work meetings.

Labour has advised the image shows obvious law-breaking, with Keir Starmer saying the argument it portrayed a work assembly “is a little bit of a stretch by anyone’s evaluation”.

On Friday, Downing Avenue denied something social came about on that night, following a 5pm Covid press convention hosted by Matt Hancock, then the well being secretary.

Johnson’s spokesperson stated on Monday the photo confirmed “particular person debriefings following a press convention, discussing work points”. He stated: “There have been meetings happening each inside and exterior No 10. This shows colleagues who have been required to be in work, assembly following a press convention to debate work.”

Requested concerning the presence of bottles of wine and glasses, the spokesperson stated: “These have been people working exterior of regular working hours. It was not in opposition to the rules for these people to have a drink exterior working hours, however nonetheless discussing work.”

Covid guidelines on the time said that if in-person work meetings needed to be held, individuals ought to stay at the very least 2 metres aside. The spokesperson stated: “I can’t touch upon precisely the extent of social distancing primarily based on a single image from Could 2020. Clearly, all people required to be in work sought to obey social distancing tips.”

Q&A

What have been the Covid guidelines in England on 15 Could 2020?

Present

The Downing Avenue gathering on 15 Could 2020 came about underneath the foundations of England’s first coronavirus lockdown. Two days earlier, an modification to Covid rules had come into power permitting the primary between-household contact since lockdown started. Nevertheless, this was restricted to 2 individuals, who may solely meet outdoor and at a distance of at the very least 2 metres. 

The foundations have been much less particular about social gatherings at work. Only a few workplaces have been open, and when this was the case, staff have been urged to maintain as distanced as potential. No 10 staff have been allowed to be at their workplace, as nationwide authorities staff have been categorized as key employees.

Nevertheless, a key goal set out within the tips for workplaces that remained open was to “keep 2-metre social distancing wherever potential”. In-person meetings ought to solely happen if “completely vital”, they stated, and if that was the case, a 2-metre distance ought to be stored always.

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The image shows Johnson’s spouse, Carrie, sitting subsequent to him, apparently holding their then new child son. Requested why she was there, the spokesperson stated that was as a result of she lived there: “The prime minister’s spouse has use of her garden. It’s successfully her garden.”

The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, claimed on BBC Radio 4’s At this time programme that the photo did appear to recommend guidelines being damaged. “I do suppose there may be proof of law-breaking … The nation is sick of it,” she stated.

Talking later Starmer stated there have been “very critical inquiries to be answered”. The Labour chief stated: “Simply take a look at the photo and ask your self: is {that a} work assembly happening, or is {that a} social occasion? I feel the reply is fairly apparent.”

Talking earlier, Dominic Raab had argued the photo merely confirmed individuals “having a drink after a busy set of work meetings”, and that different workplaces would have acted equally.

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'They would sometimes have a drink': Raab defends picture of wine in No 10 garden – video
‘They’d generally have a drink’: Raab defends image of wine in No 10 garden – video

Requested concerning the photo, Raab, the justice secretary, informed BBC One’s Breakfast: “I understand how arduous that No 10 group have been working, because the hub, the fulcrum of the disaster response. I feel there’s plenty of exhausted individuals, and they, as individuals do in work, have been having a drink after the formal enterprise had been executed.”

Requested why the photo appeared to point out individuals standing extra intently collectively, Raab appeared to argue that this mattered much less as they have been outdoor, one thing not talked about within the steerage: “There may be vital distinction. It’s at all times been clear from the general public well being recommendation that outdoor you’ve obtained a a lot larger likelihood of lowering the chance due to the air flow that comes with it.”

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