Boris Johnson appears to get his coronavirus rules wrong again

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson - (Copyright PA Wire)
18:26pm, Fri 16 Oct 2020
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Boris Johnson appears to have got his coronavirus rules wrong again after suggesting parents and children who live apart may face restrictions if one of their areas goes into heightened controls.

The Prime Minister told a father living in a different county to his son “there may be restrictions”, despite all levels of the local Covid-19 measures giving an exemption for parents to see their children.

The apparent error during a televised Downing Street press conference on Friday came after Mr Johnson was forced to apologise for wrongly explaining local lockdown measures.

Christopher, who lives in Margate, Kent, asked the Prime Minister whether he would be able to visit his son in Essex if either area rises from the “medium” level of restrictions, as much of Essex will do from Saturday.

Covid-19 alert system in England - (Copyright PA Graphics)

Mr Johnson told him: “Christopher, I think the guidance alas is that – you should go on the website obviously and check – but when places go into a higher tier from the basic medium then there are restrictions on household contact, alas.

“So depending on how you define your household, you may find there may be restrictions but you really need to go on to the website to see what’s going on in Kent and what’s going on in Essex in order to be absolutely sure.”

However, each of Mr Johnson’s new three-tiered local coronavirus rules, including the “very high” level, includes an exemption for children who live apart from their parents.

The Government’s website states there is an exemption “for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians”.

It is even clearer in the regulations, which state that there is an exception for “the purposes of arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents”.

The Department of Health and Social Care declined a request to correct the record and instead referred the PA news agency to the rules on the Government’s website.

A fortnight ago, the Prime Minister swiftly tweeted an apology after stumbling over his explanation of the ban on households mixing in north east England, saying that he had “misspoke”.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said that error showed he was “grossly incompetent” and told the Government “to get a grip”.

When the national lockdown was imposed in March, senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove also apologised and corrected his remarks over children whose parents live apart.

He caused confusion by saying that “we should not have children moving between households”, despite the official guidance at the time stating that children under 18 could move between their parents’ homes.

Sign up to our newsletter