In the light of the prime minister and chancellor announcing they would not isolate despite being contacted by NHS test and trace, there were accusations of “one rule for them”. Amid the furore, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak U-turned within three hours – but they are not the first to have apparently disregarded the rules followed by the majority of the population.
Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser caused public outrage after the Guardian disclosed he drove from London to County Durham with suspected Covid symptoms during the first lockdown, and then made a round trip to Barnard Castle.
The ensuing level of anger was described by some MPs as the worst they had known since Brexit, with tens of thousands of voters voicing their fury. Despite this, Cummings was backed by the prime minister and the aide was allowed to defend his actions in an unprecedented press conference in the Downing Street rose garden. He resigned six months later and has since apologised for the handling of the “debacle”.
The health secretary was caught on CCTV breaking social distancing rules by kissing his aide, Gina Coladangelo, in his office in May. Hancock initially refused to resign when the pictures were published in the Sun last month, and for more than 24 hours Johnson backed him to stay in post.
Two days after the story broke, amid growing anger from bereaved families of those who had died of Covid, and MPs including Conservative backbenchers, Hancock quit. Johnson later tried to claim credit for the resignation.
The MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West was suspended by the Scottish National party in October after she admitted travelling to London and attending debates in the Commons despite taking a Covid-19 test.
After being told her test was positive, Ferrier then travelled home by train from London via Glasgow, and later acknowledged visiting several businesses in Rutherglen on the day she took the test. Now an independent MP, she has been charged with breaching coronavirus restrictions.
The communities secretary was forced to explain himself in April 2020 after the Guardian revealed he made a journey of over an hour to visit his parents despite warning people to remain at home. Jenrick was also criticised for travelling 150 miles from his London property to his Herefordshire home, from where he travelled to his parents’ home in Shropshire. He defended his actions, saying he went to deliver food and medicine to his isolating parents, and he remained in his cabinet post.
The first minister of Scotland was caught in a bar not wearing a face covering in December. She was photographed chatting to three women while standing at a distance. She apologised and told the Scottish parliament she had “no excuses”.
The prime minister’s father said he was “extremely sorry” after being pictured shopping without wearing a face covering in September. He was pictured in the Daily Mirror browsing the shelves at a newsagent’s in west London, seemingly breaking the rules by not covering his mouth and nose.