Downing Street Party: What Were The Covid Rules At The Time?

Downing Street staff went ahead with a BYOB party on May 20, despite warnings from some officials that it was against Covid restrictions in place at the time.

The country had been subject to an effective lockdown for 58 days already to try to stop the virus spreading.

But an email leaked to ITV News showed 100 people were invited to the al-fresco gathering, while it is thought around 40 attended.

While stay at home guidance had been loosened a week before the party, the country was still subject to some of the strictest rules seen throughout the whole pandemic.

Meet-ups were limited to just two people who had to be outside and socially distanced.

Here’s a reminder of everything people were and were not allowed to do at the time.

The number of UK deaths from Coronavirus, a further 363 victims taking the total to 35,704, coincided with the hottest day of the year so far, with 27.8 degrees recorded at Heathrow Airport, and a mother and daughter read their books on the steps of their home's porch in late sunshine while still under the UK government's lockdown rules of social distancing - during a warm evening in Lambeth, south London, on 20th May 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Meet-ups were restricted to just two people (Picture: Getty)

What were the rules on socialising?

Social gatherings involving more than two people were forbidden at the time of the May 20 party.

People in England were allowed to meet only one person from another household, providing they were at least two metres apart and outside.

Visits to the homes of friends and family were not permitted – unless it was for care and medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities were shared.

It was not until June 1 that groups of up to six people were allowed to meet outdoors, two weeks after No 10 staff enjoyed drinks in the garden.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: A general view of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was due to hold the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this wee on May 20, 2020 in London, England. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Most non-essential venues were still closed (Picture: Getty Images Europe)

What were the rules on working from home?

Some have tried to justify gatherings at Downing Street during the pandemic by saying it is a workplace, and staff were required to be there because they were key workers.

Civil servants were included in the list of essential jobs published by the government during the early stages of lockdown, meaning they could continue to do their jobs despite the restrictions.

However activities were restricted to those necessary for work purposes only and socialising, even among work colleagues, was not allowed.

In the days prior to the party, Boris Johnson had announced that people who could not work from home would be able to ‘speak to their employer about going back to work.’

This paved the way for many workers – including industries such as construction – to return to work, having had to stay home for more than two months.

Thousands were fined for breaches of the lockdown laws (Picture: Getty Images)

What were the sanctions for breaking the rules?

Social gatherings were restricted to two people by law, meaning police could issue on-the-spot fines to those found in breach of the rules.

Police forces in England and Wales issued 14,244 Covid fines between March 27 and May 11, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Officers were forced to break up gatherings and protests, including a demonstration against the coronavirus lockdown in Hyde Park, west London, on May 16.

Officers dispersed a 100-strong street party in Handsworth, Birmingham on May 22, telling the crowd that such gatherings were in breach of the Government’s orders.

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Source : https://metro.co.uk/2022/01/11/downing-street-party-what-were-the-covid-rules-in-may-2020-15900931/

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