What were the Covid rules at the time of Hancock’s ‘embrace’

According to Mr Hancock, ‘social distancing rules are very important and people should follow them’

Joe Middleton
Saturday 26 June 2021 20:13 BST
Matt Hancock accused of ‘having affair with close aide’ Gina Coladangelo

Matt Hancock has resigned after video emerged of him breaking his own Covid rules during a passionate embrace with a departmental aide, an old friend from university.

The health secretary was pictured embracing Gina Coladangelo, a 43-year-old consultant at the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) London headquarters last month, as reported by The Sun.

Mr Hancock led the government response to the pandemic and on multiple occasions has urged the British public to abide by strict lockdown rules.

In announcing his resignation on Saturday, Mr Hancock reiterated his apology for breaking the guidance, saying he owed it to the public to “be honest when we have let them down as I have done”.

But just last year he said he was left “speechless” after government adviser Professor Neil Ferguson allowed his lover Antonia Staats to visit his home, in breach of social distancing rules at the time.

Supporting Professor Ferguson’s resignation, Mr Hancock added that “social distancing rules are very important and people should follow them.”

The Independent has looked at what Covid rules were in place during the ‘hug’.

What were the regulations at the time of Mr Hancock’s ‘embrace’?

The images, which appear to be captured from CCTV footage, were taken on 6 May from the headquarters of the DHSC.

At the time they were taken, the country was in the middle of Step 2 of Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap which meant that non-essential shops were open, but hospitality businesses were still closed.

Social distancing was still strictly enforced and the regulations stated that you could not socialise indoors with anyone not in your household or support bubble. The ban on hugging people was not lifted until Step 3 of the roadmap on 17 May.

The advice for workplaces at the time encouraged people to work from home if they were able.

If you did have to go into work then workplaces had a responsibility to ensure that they were compliant with government stipulations, this included social distancing.

The guidance provided by the government for offices said: “You should maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible.”

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