Timeline of alleged government social gatherings held during Covid

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Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure over social gatherings believed to have taken place in Downing Street and elsewhere in Whitehall as England was under coronavirus restrictions. Here are the most important events that have been discovered:

May 15, 2020

What happened? More than a dozen government officials, including Boris Johnson and his former adviser Dominic Cummings, and Johnson’s fiancée at the time, Carrie Symonds, were illustrated socialize in the Downing Street garden with wine and cheese.

What were the rules back then? England was coming out of confinement. The public has been asked to work from home whenever possible. Social gatherings were limited to meeting only one person outside their household outdoors, as long as social distancing was observed.

Cheese and wine in the garden of Downing St in May 2020 © Guardian/Eyevine

May 20, 2020

What happened? About 40 people, including Johnson and Symonds, gathered in the garden of Number 10 after the prime minister’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, sent a E-mail to staff at 100 Downing Street inviting them to ‘socially distanced drinks’.

What were the rules back then? The same as May 15.

November 13, 2020

What happened? Cummings has alleged that a rally was held at Johnson’s flat at 11 Downing Street the night he left government.

Asked in the Communal room on whether the event happened, Johnson replied, “No, but I’m sure whatever happened, the advice was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”

What were the rules back then? England was placed under a four-week nationwide lockdown from November 5. The public was encouraged to stay home except for work, exercise and shopping for essentials.

November 25, 2020

What happened? Treasury officials staged what the department described as ‘impromptu’ drinks to celebrate the release of the chancellor’s spending review, according to reports first published in the Time.

What were the rules back then? The four-week nationwide lockdown was still in place.

November 27, 2020

What happened? According to reports in the GuardianJohnson delivered a speech at a rally in Downing Street marking the departure of number 10 aide Cleo Watson.

What were the rules back then? The four-week nationwide lockdown was still in place.

December 10, 2020

What happened? Then-Education Secretary Gavin Williamson hosted a meeting in his department with staff, which included speeches, drinks and canapes. The DfE said the rally was used “to thank these staff for their efforts during the pandemic”.

What were the rules back then? The event happened while the tier system was in place in England, with London under tier two measures. The public were advised to work from home where possible, while indoor mixing was banned, but up to six people were allowed to meet outdoors.

December 14, 2020

© Mirrorpix

What happened? The campaign team of Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey held an indoor party (above) at the Conservatives’ headquarters Following the revelations, Bailey, who attended the party, resigned as committee chair in the London Assembly.

What were the rules back then? London was still under Tier Two restrictions.

December 15, 2020:

© Mirrorpix

What happened? the Mirror The newspaper published a photo of Johnson hosting a virtual Christmas quiz (above), accompanied by helpers wearing tinsel and a Santa hat. Official guidelines at the time urged the public not to attend work Christmas lunches or parties.

What were the rules back then? London was still under Tier Two restrictions.

December 16, 2020

What happened? Department of Transportation officials staged a rally at the department that included alcohol. In response to the revelations, first published by the mirror, the department said fewer than a dozen employees were involved but apologized for the “misjudgment.”

What were the rules back then? London was under Tier Three restrictions, which came into effect that day.

The public were advised to work from home, while indoor household mixing was banned and people could congregate in groups of up to six people in some outdoor settings such as parks. Hospitality outlets have been closed, with some exceptions for delivery and takeout.

December 17, 2020

What happened? Cabinet Office staff held a rally in Whitehall that included a virtual quiz as well as drinks and snacks for those physically present in the office. The revelations from the rally prompted the cabinet secretary Case Simon to recuse himself from investigations into alleged breaches of coronavirus rules in government.

Separately, Cabinet Office staff hosted a going away party for former head of the government’s Covid task force, Kate Josephs.

What were the rules back then? London was under tier three restrictions.

December 18, 2020

What happened? According to revelations first broken by The mirror newspaper, more than 40 staff attended a rally at 10 Downing Street which included booze and ‘Secret Santa’ games.

What were the rules back then? London was under tier three restrictions.

April 16, 2021

What happened? Two parties were held at 10 Downing Street the day before Prince Philip’s funeral. One was to mark the departure of James Slack, Johnson’s communications director, and the other a going away party for one of the Prime Minister’s personal photographers.

Downing Street said Johnson was out of town and an apology was issued at Buckingham Palace.

What were the rules back then? England was in its third national lockdown and on April 12 entered stage two of the government’s roadmap out of restrictions. The public was advised to limit indoor socializing to their household or bubble support and outdoor socializing was limited to a maximum of six people or two households.





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