The minister for Brexit opportunities made the comment during an appearance on BBC Breakfast where he was questioned by presenter Naga Munchetty, who asked if the recent news about the fines "reflected well on this Conservative government”.
As well as attempting to dismiss the matter, Rees-Mogg also had a dig at the BBC for its news coverage of the story.
"I’m afraid I think this is a non-story. I mean, the BBC has absolutely loved it but what is important is that we get on with the business of government," he said in response.
Though Munchetty then challenged the Tory minister on this point and asked him: "Why do you think this is a non-story? Have you not heard people upset, genuinely devastated, that people in Downing Street thought it was OK to break the rules that they set while other people didn’t break the rules and missed out on meeting dying family members?"
Naga Munchetty - Do these fines, more than 100, reflect well on this Tory government? \n\nJacob Rees-Mogg - "This is a non story..." \n\n#BBCBreakfastpic.twitter.com/7GJAfV3Jdj
“I think people were upset," Rees-Mogg conceded. "I think this was an important story in February when it first became known, and that there was great concern and there was a feeling of people who were bereaved particularly about it.
“I also think we need to look in the inquiry at the rules to see if they were proportionate," he added.
"We need to look at whether these rules were right in the first place in case we have a pandemic again because I think they were too restrictive," as people were unable to "comfort the dying" when hospitals barred visitors.
Munchetty then asked Rees-Mogg for further clarification on why he thought this news was a "non-story," to which he replied: "What I’m saying is the fines are a consequence of things we knew in February and it was a story in February and people now know about it and have made their judgment on it and there are other things going on that are more important."
The comments from the Tory minister have sparked anger on social media as viewers slammed Rees-Mogg for his dismissal of how upset people remain over the scandal.
Comedian David Baddiel described Rees-Mogg's point that the lockdown rules were too strict to excuse the government's own rule-breaking as a "f***ing astounding bit of s***illogic."
Saying now that lockdown rules imposed by The Government were too rigorous, in order to excuse The Government for not following the rules they imposed, is a fucking astounding bit of shitillogic.https://twitter.com/Haggis_UK/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
And there is the problem, that Mogg thinks this is a \u2018non-story\u2019 when thousands of people followed lockdown law despite not being able to be with dying relatives. This is not going away Mogg, however many times you say this. Shame on you.https://twitter.com/haggis_uk/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
So this man just regards all the partying in Downing Street while we were all doing what we were told to do, people where dying alone...is a "Non Story"https://twitter.com/Haggis_UK/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
— Lady Lem-Sip \ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udf4b\ud83d\ude37\u2618\ufe0f\ud83c\uddee\ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddeb\ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\udff4\udb40\udc67\udb40\udc62\udb40\udc77\udb40\udc6c\udb40\udc73\udb40\udc7f\ud83c\udf3b (@Lady Lem-Sip \ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udf4b\ud83d\ude37\u2618\ufe0f\ud83c\uddee\ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddeb\ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\udff4\udb40\udc67\udb40\udc62\udb40\udc77\udb40\udc6c\udb40\udc73\udb40\udc7f\ud83c\udf3b)
This is NOT a non-story @Jacob_Rees_Mogg . It may be the fact that the rules might be found to have been too restrictive but that is irrelevant. They were the rules, the laws which your government created, and we all followed them, and the government didn't.https://twitter.com/Haggis_UK/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
How f***ing dare he keep saying the rules were too harsh. They were the rules at the time, you made those rules and the majority of us abided by them, so it doesn\u2019t matter if they were too harsh in retrospect. I am f***ing mad as Hell at these gaslighters.https://twitter.com/haggis_uk/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
— The Rt Hon Lady Matildamog (@The Rt Hon Lady Matildamog)
\u201cWell, frankly, officer, I don\u2019t think that area should have been a 30mph limit, and as such, I\u2019ve decided this is a non-ticket.\u201d\n\nI\u2019m speechless. Genuinely shocked and appalled at this stage. I cannot comprehend this level of immutable hypocrisy.https://twitter.com/haggis_uk/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
— Bready The Beagle Breadwards (@Bready The Beagle Breadwards)
Gaslighting 101.\n\nThe Tories now say Downing Street law-breaking and entitlement is okay because the rules were too hard in the first place\n\nThe Tories were happy with 'little people' being fined\n\nThe Tories now have to sell a new lie as they are being held to account\n#Partygatehttps://twitter.com/Haggis_UK/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
We broke the law but it's not our fault because the laws were too strict, these being the laws that we ourselves imposed. \n\nThe NI Protocol argument transplanted to Covid.https://twitter.com/Haggis_UK/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026
Quite chilling in his complete disregard for the law breaking and the trauma suffered by 1000`s. It`s ok because we messed up with the rules in the first place!!! I`d say unbelievable but, unfortunately it isn`t anymorehttps://twitter.com/Haggis_UK/status/1525005209893756933\u00a0\u2026