Only socialise with ONE person outdoors and work meetings must be ‘essential’: The lockdown rules for England on May 20, 2020

Much of Britain was paralysed in a state of fear over coronavirus on May 20, 2020, with the country only two months into the first national lockdown.

About ten days earlier the Government had launched a ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ campaign, and the first vaccines would not be given for another seven months.

Indoor socialising with other households was strictly banned and only two people were allowed to meet outside in a public space such as a park while at least 6ft (2m) apart.

There was an exemption on gatherings where ‘essential for work purposes’ – but guidance said workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace’. 

No10 has relied on the get-outs for work when responding to other claims about parties.

Two women at Wandsworth Common in London on May 20, 2020

Two women at Wandsworth Common in London on May 20, 2020

Two women at Wandsworth Common in London on May 20, 2020

Britons were regularly washing their hands to stay safe and many mourners had to watch funerals from home on live-streams, with official guidance saying the only people allowed to attend were ‘members of the deceased person’s household and close family members’.

Some mothers were giving birth without partners, shoppers were queuing outside supermarkets which limited numbers of shoppers and others had vital medical appointments put back as hospitals struggled to cope with Covid-19 patients.

As for working from home, Boris Johnson said on May 10, 2020 that people should ‘work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home’ and also advised them to avoid public transport to maintain social distancing. 

Queues at a McDonald's in Peterborough opening on May 20, 2020

Queues at a McDonald's in Peterborough opening on May 20, 2020

Queues at a McDonald’s in Peterborough opening on May 20, 2020  

On May 20, 2020, there were 2,700 daily positive cases while the seven-day average stood at 2,328 – a number that was falling after hitting an average of 4,774 one month earlier.

There were also 268 deaths within 28 days of a positive test on May 20, 2020, with a seven-day average of 255. This was also down, from a peak of 976 on April 10.

As for the global picture, experts at Johns Hopkins University said at least 323,286 people were known to have died from Covid-19 while at least 4,897,567 had been infected.

Police at the Peterborough McDonald's at lunchtime on May 20, 2020

Police at the Peterborough McDonald's at lunchtime on May 20, 2020

Police at the Peterborough McDonald’s at lunchtime on May 20, 2020

And then-US president Donald Trump said having more cases in the US than any other country was a ‘badge of honour’, because it meant the US had ‘more testing than anybody else’.

In Britain, non-essential shops were shut and hospitality businesses remained closed, although a handful of fast food chains began reopening for takeaway on the day.

Photographs from the day show police patrolling a park in London to look for rule-breakers, and a group of swimmers in Edinburgh being broken up by officers. 

Thousands of people at Durdle Door beach in Dorset on May 20, 2020

Thousands of people at Durdle Door beach in Dorset on May 20, 2020

Thousands of people at Durdle Door beach in Dorset on May 20, 2020

May 20 also saw huge queues outside McDonald’s drive-thrus as 30 were reopened to the public from 11am.  

The move led to police being called to a drive-thru branch of McDonald’s in Cambridgeshire after dozens of customers arrived when it opened.

Cars were queuing around the car park as customers rushed to get their hands on burgers, fries and milkshakes. There were similar scenes at a KFC in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough. 

A backlog of cars at a KFC outlet in Middlesbrough on May 20, 2020

A backlog of cars at a KFC outlet in Middlesbrough on May 20, 2020

A backlog of cars at a KFC outlet in Middlesbrough on May 20, 2020

Britons were also enjoying the warm weather at the time, with thousands of sun seekers photographed flocking to the iconic Durdle Door beach in Dorset on that day.

Dominic Cummings had already made his infamous 30-mile trip to Barnard Castle in County Durham to allegedly test his eyesight by this point, on April 12, although this was not revealed until newspaper reports about it on May 22. 

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Boris Johnson faced demands to ‘stop lying’ today as he faces the threat of a police probe after a bombshell leaked email showed his top civil servant invited 100 staff to a ‘BYOB’ bash in Downing Street during the first lockdown.

The PM is under huge pressure to ‘come clean’ following the emergence of the message from his principal private secretary Martin Reynolds urging aides to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’ on May 20, 2020.

The email apparently cause shock among some of the recipients, who exchanged comments including ‘Why is Martin encouraging a mass gathering in the garden?’ and ‘Is this for real?’ 

At the time, only two people were allowed to socialise outside while at least two metres apart under England’s Covid curbs. There was an exemption for ‘essential work purposes’, but the guidance stated people should ‘minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace’. 

On a visit to his constituency yesterday, Mr Johnson ducked questions about whether he attended the gathering along with wife Carrie and 30-40 staff who feasted on drinks, crisps and sausage rolls – as has been claimed. Instead he merely insisted it was a matter for Sue Gray, the senior official leading an investigation into allegations of lockdown-busting parties across Whitehall.

And Downing Street insisted today that Mr Reynolds ‘continues in his role’ and has the full confidence of the PM.

The raging ‘Partygate’ row was not even mentioned at Cabinet this morning, according to No10. 

Mr Johnson is also sending a junior minister to field an urgent question in the Commons this afternoon, rather than facing a grilling himself. 

Lawyers have suggested the premier being there might not have broken the law at the time, as it was technically his garden.  

But bereaved families vented fury and accused Mr Johnson of ‘smirking’ rather than answering the allegations.

And Labour leader Keir Starmer said: ‘Boris Johnson, your deflections and distractions are absurd. Not only did you know about the parties in Downing Street, you attended them.

‘Stop lying to the British public. It’s time to finally come clean.’

There are growing signs of disquiet among senior Tories at the hypocrisy and evasive responses from the government. It is unclear how soon Ms Gray – who has a fierce reputation in Whitehall – is set to deliver her findings. 

Health minister Edward Argar said in a round of interviews this morning that he understood the public’s ‘anger’ at the allegations, and stressed that he personally had not been at any drinks bashes in May 2020 as he was ‘glued to Zoom’. 

Meanwhile, Theresa May’s former chief of staff Lord Barwell swiped: ‘Let me put this politely: it is not *entirely clear* why the Prime Minister needs to wait for Sue Gray’s report to find out if he went to a party in his own garden.’

And former Scottish Tory leader Baroness Davidson said: ‘Nobody needs an official to tell them if they were at a boozy shindig in their own garden. 

‘People are (rightly) furious. They sacrificed so much – visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals. What tf were any of these people thinking?’ 

Tory mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said the revelations were ‘unbelievable’ and demanded to know if Mr Johnson was at the gathering. 

Some aides told MailOnline they would not have attended any such event at the time because they are ‘not stupid’.   

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband told Sky News: ‘How can he lead the country through these difficult times, get people to follow public health advice, if he has so flagrantly breached the rules?’ 

Scotland Yard has confirmed that they are now ‘in contact with the Cabinet Office’ over reports of the drinks event. 

The force is thought to be waiting to see if Ms Gray’s inquiry identifies rule-breaking before considering whether further action is needed.

A spokesman for the Met said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on May 20 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office.’

On May 20, 2020, the Met had told people they could have a picnic, exercise or do sport outside providing you are ‘on your own, with people you live with, or just you and one other person’.

Oliver Dowden, then the culture secretary, used a Downing Street press conference that day to remind the public they could ‘meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart’. It is understood Mr Dowden was not at the ‘BYOB’ bash.

Mr Reynolds’s email, which was leaked to ITV News, said: ‘Hi all, after what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening. Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!’

The PM’s spokesman said they did not know whether Mr Reynolds took part in the Cabinet meeting today. 

But asked if he was definitely staying in post, the spokesman said; ‘Yes. Martin continues in his role.’

Pressed on whether Mr Johnson has ‘full confidence’ in his PPS, the spokesman said: ‘Yes.’ 

Andrew Griffith, parliamentary private secretary to the Prime Minister, gave no response to questions from reporters as he left.

George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, also did not respond as he stepped out of a Range Rover and entered the building.

Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment, responded only with ‘good morning’. 

Mr Johnson’s authority has come under serious challenge among backbenchers and Cabinet colleagues in recent months.

His government is fighting allegations that staff broke lockdown rules during the pandemic. 

In December, the PM insisted that a photo of a gathering in the No10 garden where staff were seen eating cheese and drinking wine from May 15, 2020 showed people ‘working’.

Another photo, obtained by the Sunday Mirror, showed Mr Johnson hosting a Christmas quiz in Downing Street in winter 2020.

The PM has also come under criticism for imposing restrictions including facemarks and Covid passes in response to the Omicron variant – an issue that sparked Lord Frost’s dramatic resignation last month.

Barrister Adam Wagner, an expert on Covid regulations, said that on the basis of what was known, the gathering on May 20, 2020 was ‘unlikely to be legal for attendees’.

He added: ‘Being outside the home was illegal at the time unless – the only potentially relevant exception – it was for the need to work. Socially distanced drinks and bring your own booze don’t sound like work.’

However, he pointed to a ‘loophole of people not themselves being liable for having parties in their back gardens’ – which was subsequently closed later in the year. He suggested that as a result the only potential legal threat to the PM would be as an accessory to other people’s breach. 

The Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds invited more than 100 staff to bring their own drinks to No10’s lavish gardens on May 20, 2020 to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’, an email leaked to ITV News shows

The Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds invited more than 100 staff to bring their own drinks to No10’s lavish gardens on May 20, 2020 to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’, an email leaked to ITV News shows

The Prime Minister’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds invited more than 100 staff to bring their own drinks to No10’s lavish gardens on May 20, 2020 to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’, an email leaked to ITV News shows 

Boris Johnson (pictured returning from his morning run today) has ducked questions about whether he attended the May 20 garden party, merely insisting it was a matter for Sue Gray, the senior official leading an investigation into allegations of lockdown-busting parties across Whitehall

Boris Johnson (pictured returning from his morning run today) has ducked questions about whether he attended the May 20 garden party, merely insisting it was a matter for Sue Gray, the senior official leading an investigation into allegations of lockdown-busting parties across Whitehall

Boris Johnson (pictured returning from his morning run today) has ducked questions about whether he attended the May 20 garden party, merely insisting it was a matter for Sue Gray, the senior official leading an investigation into allegations of lockdown-busting parties across Whitehall 

Senior Tories have voiced disbelief at the latest Partygate allegations threatening to destabilise the PM  

Mr Johnson's former chief aide Dominic Cummings has alleged that the PM himself - whom he has taken to referring to as the 'trolley' in a reference to erratic decision-making - was at the gathering on May 20, 2020

Mr Johnson's former chief aide Dominic Cummings has alleged that the PM himself - whom he has taken to referring to as the 'trolley' in a reference to erratic decision-making - was at the gathering on May 20, 2020

Mr Johnson’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings has alleged that the PM himself – whom he has taken to referring to as the ‘trolley’ in a reference to erratic decision-making – was at the gathering on May 20, 2020  

A Met Police tweet on May 20, 2020 laying down the rules that prevented more than two people from different households from meeting outside

A Met Police tweet on May 20, 2020 laying down the rules that prevented more than two people from different households from meeting outside

A Met Police tweet on May 20, 2020 laying down the rules that prevented more than two people from different households from meeting outside 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson are photographed walking out of Oswald's in Mayfair last Thursday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson are photographed walking out of Oswald's in Mayfair last Thursday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson are photographed walking out of Oswald’s in Mayfair last Thursday

Carrie Johnson leaves Oswald's private members' club on Albemarle Street in Mayfair last Thursday night at about 9.30pm

Carrie Johnson leaves Oswald's private members' club on Albemarle Street in Mayfair last Thursday night at about 9.30pm

Carrie Johnson leaves Oswald’s private members’ club on Albemarle Street in Mayfair last Thursday night at about 9.30pm

Mr Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds (left) allegedly sent a 'bring your own bottle' email invitation

Mr Johnson's principal private secretary Martin Reynolds (left) allegedly sent a 'bring your own bottle' email invitation

Mr Johnson’s principal private secretary Martin Reynolds (left) allegedly sent a ‘bring your own bottle’ email invitation

Behind the email: Top mandarin who runs Boris Johnson’s private office –  for now 

Martin Reynolds is the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary.

Questions had already been raised over his future after Dominic Cummings last week revealed he was behind the May 20, 2020 party.

But Downing Street denied reports he could be moved into a low profile senior diplomatic role, possibly at ambassador level.

Martin Reynolds (above), the Prime Minister's principal private secretary, is expected to be moved after the Cabinet Office concludes its investigation into whether rules were broken at a series of No 10 gatherings during Covid lockdowns

Martin Reynolds (above), the Prime Minister's principal private secretary, is expected to be moved after the Cabinet Office concludes its investigation into whether rules were broken at a series of No 10 gatherings during Covid lockdowns

Martin Reynolds (above), the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, is expected to be moved after the Cabinet Office concludes its investigation into whether rules were broken at a series of No 10 gatherings during Covid lockdowns

Mr Reynolds was pictured sitting with the Prime Minister and Carrie Symonds at a ‘cheese and wine’ party held in the No10 garden on May 15, 2020. 

Days later he sent the email to more than 100 people, inviting them out again for a cheeky midweek snifter.  

Mr Cummings revealed the party on Friday in a blog, and claimed he warned colleagues at the time that the gathering broke lockdown rules and should not have gone ahead.

He said he wrote the warning in an email that could be discovered by senior civil servant Sue Gray, who is investigating the allegations that parties were held.

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Several No 10 staff privately expressed shock to each other about the party at the time, according to the BBC.  

Speaking on a visit to his Uxbridge constituency yesterday, Mr Johnson told reporters: ‘All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.’

Pressed on whether he had been interviewed by Ms Gray, he said: ‘All that is a subject for investigation by Sue Gray.’

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said if the Prime Minister attended the alleged Downing Street drinks party in May 2020 then his position would be ‘untenable’ and he would have ‘lost all moral authority to lead the country’.

Members of the group met Boris Johnson last year in the Downing Street garden where the alleged gathering is said to have taken place and said he ‘looked us in the eyes and told us he had ‘done all he could’ to save our loved ones’.

They said he must ‘come clean to the country in a way that he didn’t with us’.

Group spokesman Lobby Akinnola, who lost his father Femi in April 2020, said: ‘It’s beyond belief that the Government seems to be suggesting a report is needed to determine whether Boris Johnson was at the event at all.

‘He knows. The dozens of people there know. Why does the Prime Minister need someone to tell him whether or not he was at a party?’ 

Downing Street has denied reports that Mr Reynolds is to be moved to another post following the claims. 

The PM’s official spokesman said he was staying in his current role, saying: ‘The Prime Minister has full confidence in his team. There is no change in that post.’

One Tory insider told MailOnline Ms Gray was seen as ‘evil incarnate’ by some in Whitehall but her duty would be to protect the premier.  

‘Boris is going to protect himself. And people who have been loyal to him are soon going to see how that will never be reciprocated,’ they said. 

Hannah White of the Institute for Government, who was previously secretary to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said she thought the PM ‘had to have’ known about the event being set up by Mr Reynolds.    

Asked if he would have accepted an invitation to an alleged Downing Street drinks party during the first lockdown, Mr Argar said he spent last May ‘glued to my Zoom screen’.

He told Sky News: ‘I spent my May last year talking to you on various occasions, and various other media outlets, but pretty much glued to my Zoom screen and making sure that I knew what the regulations were – not least because I was a health minister who’d helped draw them up.’

Pressed on whether he would have accepted such an invitation in light of this, he said: ‘I wasn’t invited to any parties and I’m not going to get into any hypotheticals.

‘I was clear about what the rules were at the time and it’s right that Sue Gray is looking into this matter independently.’

Mr Argar said he might have had a ‘quiet word’ with neighbours if they were having a party during May 2020.

Pushed on whether he would have ‘stepped in’ if he had seen 40 people gathering in the garden of Downing Street, Mr Argar said: ‘Well, you’re citing a hypothetical there. I wasn’t in Downing Street. I don’t think I went to Downing Street at all during that period of the pandemic.

‘I spent most of it sitting, as I say, glued to a Zoom or Teams screen. But I think we all, at that time, we remember what it was like.’

He added: ‘I think you probably asked me at the time, would I, if I, for example, had people next door or in the street having a party or breaking the rules, what would we do and what would I say? I made clear that I might have a quiet word.

‘But I’m not going to extrapolate from that or be drawn on the allegations at the moment. They’re being investigated by Sue Gray. So, I’m not going to, I’m afraid, get into hypotheticals about that.’

Mr Argar insisted: ‘I want to know exactly what happened, what did or didn’t happen’. 

Environment Secretary George Eustice was in Downing Street as Mr Johnson held the regular Cabinet meeting this morning, although many ministers are thought to have joined remotely

Environment Secretary George Eustice was in Downing Street as Mr Johnson held the regular Cabinet meeting this morning, although many ministers are thought to have joined remotely

Environment Secretary George Eustice was in Downing Street as Mr Johnson held the regular Cabinet meeting this morning, although many ministers are thought to have joined remotely 

Chief whip Mark Spencer smiled for photographers when he was spotted in Whitehall this morning

Chief whip Mark Spencer smiled for photographers when he was spotted in Whitehall this morning

Chief whip Mark Spencer smiled for photographers when he was spotted in Whitehall this morning

The ‘lockdown-busting parties’ that No10 is accused of holding during the pandemic  

Sue Gray is investigating four alleged parties in 2020 which the PM is accused of attending:

May 15, 2020:

A photo leaked to The Guardian shows government staff including Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and ex-chief aide Dominic Cummings sitting in the Downing Street garden. They can be seen drinking wine and eating cheese. More than a dozen other people can be seen in the photo. No10 denied this was a party, insisting they were all ‘working’.

May 20, 2020:

A second garden party at No10 is alleged to have taken place. A bombshell email sent by the PM’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, appears to confirm this. ITV News reported that more than 100 government staff were invited to the outdoor party, and that around 40 people — including Mr and Mrs Johnson — attended. Crucially, Mr Reynolds told people to bring their own drinks. No10 has not yet responded to the email.

November 27, 2020:

The PM is accused of making a speech at a leaving do in Downing Street for Mr Cummings’s former aide Cleo Watson. Mr Johnson is said to have given a speech at a packed leaving do for Miss Watson, who left No10 to write an erotic political thriller about salacious goings-on in Westminster. At the time, Britain was in the grip of the second lockdown, with all indoor social gatherings banned unless they involved a single household bubble. The PM’s official spokesman did not deny the gathering had taken place but he said: ‘At all stages the rules have been followed.’ The PM’s press secretary added: ‘We don’t recognise this account, as we’ve said Covid rules have been followed at all times.’

December 15, 2020:

Pictures obtained by the Sunday Mirror show Mr Johnson on a TV screen flanked by colleagues, one draped in tinsel and another wearing a Santa hat, in the No10 library. A source claimed many staff were huddled by computers in their Downing Street offices, conferring on questions and drinking alcohol while the quiz was taking place. The Mirror said a message sent by No10’s head of HR on the night of the quiz advised that those who had stayed behind to take part ‘go out the back’ when they left. The paper also unearthed the team names used that night, including ‘Professor Quiz Whitty’, ‘Rebels without a Claus’, and ‘Hands, Face, First Place’. 

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Tory mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street told the BBC: ‘When I saw this I thought, I can’t really believe this, if I’m honest. 

‘It was May 2020, a time when we were all restricted. My idea of going out was to walk along the canal with one friend, frankly, and I’m sure there’s lots of people in the West Midlands who have their own recollections of what they were doing in May 2020. So yes, it is very difficult to believe.’

He added: ‘What we don’t know is whether the prime minister was there. I obviously can’t possibly comment on that, but that’s why the inquiry has got to come.

‘And I’m sure that when the inquiry finds out the facts, then the conclusions and the consequences will be acted upon.’ 

Lord Evans, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said ‘Partygate’ and other scandals showed at least ‘carelessness’ over maintaining proper standards.

He told MPs: ‘I think we have seen a whole series of issues over the last few months: the Owen Paterson affair, the attempt to change the rules over standards investigations in the middle of the investigation into Mr Paterson’s actions.

‘The questions around the redecoration of Downing Street, in particular the very bad processes that were clearly in place for keeping Lord Geidt properly informed.

‘The Greensill (lobbying) affair and now Partygate.

‘All of those, I think, have demonstrated that there is – at least – a carelessness amongst people in Government over standards issues, and possibly no more than that.’

Ms Rayner said of the PM: ‘He is trying to get officials to take the fall for his own mistakes, but he sets the tone for the way Downing Street and the rest of government operates.

‘At the time this party took place, key workers on the frontline were working round the clock to keep us all safe, people suffered loneliness and loss in unimaginably tough circumstances and for the majority of the country our freedom was limited to a daily walk.’

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey thundered: ‘This is yet more evidence that while the vast majority of people were sticking to the rules, those in No 10 were breaking them. To add insult to injury, on the very same day that the Culture Secretary said people could only meet in pairs outdoors, it seems Boris Johnson’s staff were holding a boozy party in Downing Street.’

Sir Ed added that Ms Gray’s inquiry ‘must interview Boris Johnson personally’ to get to the bottom of claims of Downing Street parties.

And Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, accused the PM of ‘sleaze and corruption’, and demanded he ‘come clean’.     

Mr Blackford said the PM ‘has no moral authority left’ and urged Tory MPs to ‘remove him from power’.

‘Boris Johnson must come clean and admit whether he attended, or was aware of, this Covid rule-breaking party in his own back garden,’ the SNP’s Westminster leader said.

‘People will find it utterly outrageous that while the rest of us were banned from public gatherings, the most powerful people in the Tory Government were boozing up at No 10 Downing Street, proving yet again that it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

‘Boris Johnson’s Tory Government is the most corrupt in decades. If the Prime Minister had a shred of integrity or an ounce of shame, he would have resigned many months ago. He has no moral authority left, and as he won’t go his Tory MPs have a duty to remove him from power.

‘Sleaze and corruption are endemic at Westminster. The only lasting solution is for Scotland to become an independent country and escape the broken Westminster system for good.’

Speaking on his Moggcast podcast, Jacob Rees-Mogg said ‘you wouldn’t expect the name of extremely junior people to be put into public highlights’.

He said: ‘I don’t know what’s happened, I have no idea what will be concluded. But if there is somebody on work experience, who happened to be there for a week, it would seem unfair that that person should be named publicly.

‘If, on the other hand, the Pope had popped in briefly, somebody of that seniority, you would expect that His Holiness would be named.’ 

Allegations of that gathering, said to have been attended by 40 people, emerged this week when Mr Cummings said he had warned at the time the ‘socially distanced drinks’ would likely be against the rules and ‘should not happen”

The PM imposed England’s first Covid lockdown in March 2020, and it was not until June 1 that groups of up to six people were allowed to meet outdoors.

Ms Gray, a senior Cabinet Office official, also expanded her investigation to the May 15, 2020 garden gathering revealed by a leaked photo showing the PM and staff sitting around cheese and wine.

Mr Cummings, who was present in the picture, insisted in a blog post on Friday that there was nothing ‘illegal or unethical’ about that day, which he insisted was a staff meeting.

But the former Downing Street adviser wrote: ‘On Wednesday 20 May, the week after this photo, a senior No 10 official invited people to ‘socially distanced drinks’ in the garden.’

Mr Cummings said he and at least one other special adviser ‘said that this seemed to be against the rules and should not happen’, adding that he issued the warning ‘in writing so Sue Gray can dig up the original email’.

‘We were ignored. I was ill and went home to bed early that afternoon but am told this event definitely happened,’ he continued.

Former attoney general Dominic Grieve accused the Prime Minister of undermining trust.

Mr Grieve, who served under David Cameron from 2010 to 2014, said that Tory MPs who are ‘very unhappy’ with the current Prime Minister’s behaviour should move to replace him.

Asked about the latest allegation of the Prime Minister and Downing Street staff flouting Covid-19 rules, Mr Grieve said: ‘He ought to be in a lot of trouble because he’s told a series of untruths about these issues over a period of time and the latest evidence clearly suggests that the rules were broken.

‘There may be mitigating circumstances for that, I don’t know. But it’s part of a pattern of behaviour by him which undermines trust. And because trust is undermined, it then becomes very difficult to accept anything he says on any topic whatsoever.’

Mr Grieve said he thinks the public now has ‘very little’ trust in Mr Johnson and added: ‘The difficulty we have here is that we have a Prime Minister who’s effectively a serial liar.’

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: ‘My impression is that there are many MPs who are deeply unhappy about him, but the difficulty is that replacing a prime minister requires courage, it requires the upheaval that goes with it, and it requires the coordination necessary to get him removed.’ 

It came as Covid infections in the UK fell again and hospitalisations stayed flat as pressure grew on the PM to release plans on how the country can safely live with the virus.

UK Health Security Agency bosses logged 142,224 positive tests, marking a week-on-week drop for the fifth day in a row. Infections in London — the first region to be battered by Omicron — plunged to their lowest levels in nearly a month, with rates now dropping in over-60s.

Another 77 deaths were registered within 28 days of testing positive, marking a 83 per cent rise on the figure last Monday. But that figure only covered fatalities in England due to the holiday, and the overall trend has barely risen ever since the ultra-transmissible variant took off.

Meanwhile, hospitalisations rose by just three per cent in a week, with the trend having finally flattened off after three weeks of steep increases. Rates in London fell again.

Both the government and NHS leaders are increasingly confident that Omicron will not overwhelm services, and even experts claimed that there was light at the end of the tunnel as ministers admitted Britain is on a path to ‘living with’ the virus.

MailOnline analysis shows daily Covid deaths are currently running at less than half the rate expected in a bad flu year, in another sign the UK is finally on the brink of beating the pandemic.

Dr David Nabarro, of the World Health Organisation, said coronavirus would pose a very difficult situation for the next three months ‘at least’ but insisted ‘we can see the end in sight’. 

Meanwhile, Professor Graham Medley, No10’s chief modeller, warned Covid ‘can’t be an emergency forever’ as he said ‘Government decisions’ would need to be made about scrapping mass testing and vaccinations.

They are the latest scientists to suggest that Britain is moving into a new phase of the coronavirus crisis now that it appears increasingly likely the NHS will cope without restrictions. 

Dr Clive Dix, the former chief of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, yesterday called for a return to a ‘new normality’ and for Covid to be treated like the flu. 

Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie, with their daughter Romy and dog Dilyn at Chequers in December

Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie, with their daughter Romy and dog Dilyn at Chequers in December

Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie, with their daughter Romy and dog Dilyn at Chequers in December

To work out flu deaths, the UK Health Security Agency — formerly Public Health England — estimates them using a statistical model, which looks at the prevalence of flu and excess winter fatalities. The cumulative number of fatalities was estimated to be in the region of 15,000 in 2016/17, with about 300 people dying every day at the peak. In 2017/18, during the Aussie flu outbreak, a total of 22,000 people were killed by influenza, with in excess of 400 dying per day at the worst of the epidemic. But in 2018/19 just 4,000 were estimated to have died to the virus, with just tens of people dying per day at the peak

To work out flu deaths, the UK Health Security Agency — formerly Public Health England — estimates them using a statistical model, which looks at the prevalence of flu and excess winter fatalities. The cumulative number of fatalities was estimated to be in the region of 15,000 in 2016/17, with about 300 people dying every day at the peak. In 2017/18, during the Aussie flu outbreak, a total of 22,000 people were killed by influenza, with in excess of 400 dying per day at the worst of the epidemic. But in 2018/19 just 4,000 were estimated to have died to the virus, with just tens of people dying per day at the peak

To work out flu deaths, the UK Health Security Agency — formerly Public Health England — estimates them using a statistical model, which looks at the prevalence of flu and excess winter fatalities. The cumulative number of fatalities was estimated to be in the region of 15,000 in 2016/17, with about 300 people dying every day at the peak. In 2017/18, during the Aussie flu outbreak, a total of 22,000 people were killed by influenza, with in excess of 400 dying per day at the worst of the epidemic. But in 2018/19 just 4,000 were estimated to have died to the virus, with just tens of people dying per day at the peak

How flu and Covid compare to other leading causes of death: Cancer is the biggest killer, taking around 166,000 lives every year, followed by dementia and heart disease. Covid has killed More than 150,000 Britons since the pandemic took off but it is expected to settle down and become an endemic illness in the coming years

How flu and Covid compare to other leading causes of death: Cancer is the biggest killer, taking around 166,000 lives every year, followed by dementia and heart disease. Covid has killed More than 150,000 Britons since the pandemic took off but it is expected to settle down and become an endemic illness in the coming years

How flu and Covid compare to other leading causes of death: Cancer is the biggest killer, taking around 166,000 lives every year, followed by dementia and heart disease. Covid has killed More than 150,000 Britons since the pandemic took off but it is expected to settle down and become an endemic illness in the coming years

‘How was your May 2020? I was forced to see my mum through a window’: Furious Brits share images of tough lockdown rules they faced at same time No 10 organised BYOB party 

Furious Brits today shared pictures of their May 2020s when they had to see loved ones through windows and could only meet one person from another household outside while No10 held a ‘bring your own booze’ party.  

A bombshell email leaked last night proved that Boris Johnson‘s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 staff to No10’s lavish gardens on May 20 to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’.

At the time, indoor socialising was banned and only two people were allowed to meet outside while at least two metres apart under national Covid curbs. There was no mixing indoors, non-essential shops were shut, and hospitality businesses remained closed.

Today, Twitter users shared harrowing pictures they took around the time of the party, including grandparents hugging their grandchildren through plastic sheeting.

Meanwhile, while Downing Street staffers were toasting the sunny weather, officers were patrolling London parks looking for groups of more than two people, while in Edinburgh a large group of swimmers were broken up. 

It came as Tories turned on Mr Johnson today as he faces the threat of a police probe and growing pressure to come clean. 

The email apparently cause shock among some of the recipients at the time, who reportedly exchanged comments including ‘Why is Martin encouraging a mass gathering in the garden?’ and ‘Is this for real?’ 

Today, Twitter users shared harrowing pictures they took around the time of the party, which showed grandparents having to hug their grandchildren through plastic sheeting or struggle to communicate with loved ones through windows

Two police officers speak to a group of swimmers on Portobello Beach in Edinburgh. At the time only two people from different households were allowed to meet outside

Two police officers speak to a group of swimmers on Portobello Beach in Edinburgh. At the time only two people from different households were allowed to meet outside

Two police officers speak to a group of swimmers on Portobello Beach in Edinburgh. At the time only two people from different households were allowed to meet outside 

On a visit to his constituency yesterday, Mr Johnson ducked questions about whether he attended the gathering along with wife Carrie and 30-40 staff who feasted on drinks, crisps and sausage rolls – as has been claimed. Instead he merely insisted it was a matter for Sue Gray, the senior official leading an investigation into allegations of lockdown-busting parties across Whitehall.

Lawyers have suggested the premier being there might not have broken the law at the time, as it was technically his garden.

But there are growing signs of disquiet among senior Tories at the hypocrisy and evasive responses from the government. It is unclear how soon Ms Gray – who has a fierce reputation in Whitehall – is set to deliver her findings.

Health minister Edward Argar said in a round of interviews this morning that he understood the public’s ‘anger’ at the allegations, and stressed that he personally had not been at any drinks bashes in May 2020 as he was ‘glued to Zoom’.

Meanwhile, Theresa May’s former chief of staff Lord Barwell swiped: ‘Let me put this politely: it is not *entirely clear* why the Prime Minister needs to wait for Sue Gray’s report to find out if he went to a party in his own garden.’

And former Scottish Tory leader Baroness Davidson said: ‘Nobody needs an official to tell them if they were at a boozy shindig in their own garden. People are (rightly) furious. They sacrificed so much – visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals. What tf were any of these people thinking?’

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Boris Johnson has consistently shown that he has no regard for the rules he puts in place for the rest of us.’

Scotland Yard has confirmed that they are now ‘in contact with the Cabinet Office’ over reports of the drinks event. The force is thought to be waiting to see if Ms Gray’s inquiry identifies rule-breaking before considering whether further action is needed.

A spokesman for the Met said: ‘The Metropolitan Police Service is aware of widespread reporting relating to alleged breaches of the Health Protection Regulations at Downing Street on May 20 2020 and is in contact with the Cabinet Office.’

On May 20, 2020, the Met had told people they could have a picnic, exercise or do sport outside providing you are ‘on your own, with people you live with, or just you and one other person’.

Oliver Dowden, then the culture secretary, used a Downing Street press conference that day to remind the public they could ‘meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart’.

Mr Reynolds’s email, which was leaked to ITV News, said: ‘Hi all, after what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening. Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!’. 

Mr Johnson’s authority has come under serious challenge among backbenchers and Cabinet colleagues in recent months.

His government is fighting allegations that staff broke lockdown rules during the pandemic. In December, the PM insisted that a photo of a gathering in the No10 garden where staff were seen eating cheese and drinking wine from May 15, 2020 showed people ‘working’.

Another photo, obtained by the Sunday Mirror, showed Mr Johnson hosting a Christmas quiz in Downing Street in winter 2020.

The PM has also come under criticism for imposing restrictions including facemarks and Covid passes in response to the Omicron variant. It is understood that the issue sparked Lord Frost’s dramatic resignation last month. 

Source: Daily Mail

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