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Coronavirus: Matt Hancock spotted without a face mask in his chauffeur-driven car

Downing Street says ministers should cover faces in official vehicles

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 19 October 2020 17:54 BST
(George Cracknell Wright/LNP)

Health secretary Matt Hancock received a slap down from Downing Street today after being pictured riding in his ministerial car without a face covering.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said ministers had been told to wear masks in their chauffeur-driven cars, shortly after pictures emerged of Mr Hancock with his face uncovered.

He was snapped arriving at the Department for Health and Social Care after a visit to the Westminster and Chelsea Hospital in London.

Passengers in taxis and private hire cars are required to wear face-coverings in order to protect drivers from the risk of infection, with a fine of £200 for breaching the rules.

Chauffeur-driven cars are exempt from the rule, but on its introduction last month, Downing Street made clear that ministers were expected to set an example.

Speaking last month, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The PM and ministers will be wearing face coverings in line with the guidance".

Asked today if Mr Hancock would be reprimanded, the prime minister's spokesman said: "I haven't seen the picture.

"On the general point, we set out at the time that we were making face coverings available in all ministerial cars so that ministers would be able to wear them."

The spokesman continued: "The advice was that ministers should wear face coverings and they were made available within the cars which ministers use."

It is understood that Mr Hancock had been wearing a face covering but removed it as he approached the department.

There was no response from Mr Hancock’s spokesman to a request for a comment.

The incident comes after Mr Johnson’s father Stanley came under fire after being spotted without a mask while shopping.

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