The UK was almost two months into lockdown when dozens of people were allegedly invited to a “bring your own booze” bash at Downing Street.
A bombshell email surfaced last night in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 Downing Street employees to a garden party.
Despite England being under tough Covid-19 restrictions, they were urged to “make the most of the lovely weather”.
ITV reported the party took place on May 20, 2020, and alleged it was attended by the PM and his wife Carrie.
Witnesses reported that around 40 staff attended and there were long tables laden with drink, crisps, sausage rolls and other picnic food.
News of the alleged party has prompted widespread outrage given the strict measures in place across the country at the time.
But almost two years into the pandemic, it can be difficult to remember exactly what rules were in place at what time.
As Boris Johnson is plunged into fresh scandal, we take a look at all the things we couldn’t do at the time the party was held.
Essentially, the majority of rules first imposed when the first lockdown was announced in March 2020 were still in force, other than a slight change announced on May 10, 2020, allowing people to exercise as much as they want outdoors with people from their own households.
Although the rules were changed in the week prior to the May 20 party, they absolutely did not allow a non-essential gathering of 40 people – regardless of how nice the weather was or if the attendees managed to maintain a two metre distance from one another.
On May 20, 2020, you were allowed to meet a maximum of one other person from another household as long as it was outside and you kept a two metre distance from one another.
Larger gatherings were banned, outside and indoors. The Rule of Six which allowed up to six people from different households to meet was not introduced until June. Those caught breaking the rules could be fined £100 in the first instance and up to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offenders.
Cultural Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed the rules during a speech he made on May 20 – the same day the party was held.
He said: “You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart.”
People were banned from visiting loved ones in hospitals and care homes.
Meanwhile non-essential shops remained shut, as did bars, pubs, hairdressers, gyms, libraries, restaurants and cafes.
Schools were still closed, leaving parents forced to juggle work and teaching their children, while those who could work from home were told to continue doing so.
The government urged those who did have to travel to and from work to avoid public transport if possible. Instead, they were advised to drive, walk or cycle to and from work.
Weddings were banned, there were strict limits on how many could attend funerals and children’s playgrounds were closed.
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Social distancing guidelines meant couples and relatives who lived apart were also not allowed to hug each other.
Police forces in England and Wales issued 14,244 fines for breaches of the coronavirus lockdown laws between March 27 and May 11, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council. On the day of the No 10 gathering, Government figures showed that 35,704 people had died after testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK, up by 363 from the day before.
On the day of the garden party, the UK recorded 2,700 daily Covid-19 cases.