Health officials said that he wore a mask for “the majority” of his November 8 visit but that: “After [he] left a welcome meeting, he walked along a mezzanine corridor, for a very short period of time, without a mask.”
The prime minister then had to be reminded to put his mask back on.
Sources told The Mirror that Mr Johnson’s team had been told via email before his visit that masks must be worn in all areas.
Mr Johnson was reminded of this on arrival to the hospital, according to reports.
He then took off the mask and came out of a “welcome meeting” without one. According to a statement from the Northumbria Healthcare foundation, “this brief moment was captured on camera.”
They added: “As soon as this was identified he was given a mask and he put it on.”
They also noted that “he didn’t have a mask on when he did his media interviews, but this was with agreement with everyone else in the room, who did wear a mask.”
Adding: “We ask that everyone visiting our hospital sites continue to follow our infection control and prevention rules.”
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck in Northumbria, said: “People were astonished that the Prime Minister was bowling up the corridor of a hospital without a mask.
“This shows a callous disregard for patients, visitors and the fantastic workforce, who have been at the frontline throughout the pandemic.”
Susie Flintham of the campaign group Covid-19 Families for Justice said: “The PM was putting lives at risk completely unnecessarily by visiting a hospital and refusing to put his mask on, despite being repeatedly asked to.
“For him to make a point of posing for a photo without a mask is a slap in the face to bereaved families.”
The prime minister faced similar criticism only last week for being pictured next to 95-year-old Sir David Attenborough while not wearing a mask at the Cop26 climate summit.
When asked why he had not followed the rules by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr Johnson said it was a judgement call.
He said: “I think it’s up to people to make a judgement about whether they’re at a reasonable distance from someone and whether they’re with someone they don’t normally meet. That’s the approach we take.”
Number 10 did not respond to requests for comment.
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