Rules for Thee and Not for Me: Johnson Caught Maskless in Car

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to attend Prime Ministers Questions at the Houses of Parliament on July 7, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was caught maskless in a car with other passengers despite claiming earlier this week that it was “common sense” and “courtesy” to wear a mask in a confined space with others.

On Monday, Johnson announced that when the end of lockdown comes, all restrictions, including the mask mandate, will end. Johnson, however, claimed that Britons should still voluntarily wear masks in some settings, telling the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon that it was “common sense for people in confined spaces to wear a face mask out of respect and courtesy to others”.

But hours later, Mr Johnson was photographed, in images reported by The Mirror, being driven in his Range Rover without wearing a mask, despite being in the car with three other people.

His wife Carrie Johnson was beside him wearing a mask, but not covering her nose (the government and NHS recommend masks cover both mouth and nose).

Both the driver and security detail were wearing masks properly, with actor and activist Laurence Fox noting: “The servants of the elite class must wear masks.”

Masks are mandated at least until July 19th in public transport or other taxis and private car hires, but Mr Johnson, in his taxpayer-funded chauffeur-driven car has not broken the law.

However, Johnson’s government recommends wearing masks when ride-sharing and ministers were also told to cover up when in ministerial cars — a point that was raised when former Health Secretary Matt Hancock was caught without a mask in his chauffeur-driven car in October, with a Downing Street spokesman saying at the time: “The advice was that ministers should wear face coverings and they were made available within the cars which ministers use.”

It is not the first time Boris Johnson has been accused of hypocrisy for having appeared to have broken his own lockdown rules.

On January 11th, Prime Minister Johnson had threatened that authorities “may have to do more” — i.e., impose stricter measures — if Britons did not follow coronavirus rules. The day before, Johnson was reported to have cycles seven miles from home at Olympic Park, despite government guidance from the time stipulating that “you should not travel outside your local area” for your one piece of exercise a day.

While the definition of what is “local” is difficult to settle, it would certainly have gone beyond what then-Health Secretary Hancock thought a reasonable distance, after he gave his support to police for fining two women in Derbyshire for driving five miles to a beauty spot for a walk. Hancock had said of the case that the police were doing “an absolutely brilliant job”. “I am absolutely going to back the police,” he continued, claiming that “every” alleged “flex” of lockdown rules “can be fatal”.

Hancock was recently caught massively breaking social distancing rules, resulting in his resignation as health secretary, when his affair with a married aide was exposed after pictures of him and Gina Coladangelo kissing were leaked to the press.

An influential scientific government advisor, Professor Neil Ferguson, was caught in a similar situation, when the married epidemiologist had twice met his married mistress, Antonia Staats, despite her and her family self-isolating at their home. Ferguson was forced to resign but has since reappeared as a member of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE).

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