Matt Hancock waxed lyrical about the importance of social distancing and following Covid rules the same day it was said Downing Street held a ”work meeting” in its garden.

At the then daily coronavirus press briefing, the (also then) health secretary announced that the country was moving from level four to level three in the Covid alert system before the government displayed behaviour appearing to not keeping with the rules at this level.

He said: “In the first step, as of this week, if you work but can’t work from home, you should speak to your employer about going back in. People can now spend time outdoors and exercise as often as you like and you can meet 1 other person from outside your household in an outdoor, public place. But please keep 2 metres apart.”

He added: “For the vast majority of people, staying alert still means staying at home as much as is possible. Working from home when you can, limiting contact with people, keeping your distance if you go out, 2 metres wherever possible, washing your hands regularly. This is still the single most effective thing that you can do to keep yourself safe and, of course, self-isolating if you or anyone in your household has coronavirus symptoms.”

We now know that after the press conference, Downing St reportedly held a gathering in the garden with wine and cheese, around 19 people, and no apparent social distancing - though Downing Street insists it was a work meeting and deputy PM Dominic Raab was wheeled out to the press to similarly defend them.

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Sources also said Hancock was one of the attendees of the party though a spokesman for Hancock told the BBC he had left the building at 18:30, after speaking to Johnson in the garden, adding: “There is no suggestion that Mr Hancock did anything wrong.”

At the press conference, Hancock also said: “This weekend, with the good weather and the new rules, I hope people can enjoy being outside but please stick with the rules, keep an eye on your family and don’t take risks.

“By staying alert and following the rules, you can play a part in the national effort getting the R down and keeping R down, controlling the virus so that we can save lives, rebuild livelihoods and start to recover our freedom.”

Meanwhile, the day before the event Johnson clapped for carers:

We’d imagine people think that clapping rings rather hollow now.

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