A No 10 spokesperson has denied Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg’s recent claims that elements of the Covid restrictions were “inhumane”.
“I think at all times the government took action to save both lives and livelihoods and that was always a balanced judgement that sought to be informed by the latest evidence we had,” he argued.
“We have established an inquiry to take a proper view and learn lessons about what happened and there will be more to say then. But certainly at all times the government sought to act in the best interests of the United Kingdom.”
The spokesperson also refused to state whether the prime minister thought Covid rules had been violated following reports that fines have been issued in relation to lockdown-defying gatherings at No 10 and Whitehall.
“The prime minister wants to comment at the conclusion of the process and not at the middle of it,” he said.
When quizzed over whether they accepted Wales secretary Simon Hart’s claims, made earlier today, that the “world has moved on” from the so-called partygate scandal, the spokesman stressed: “We recognise the strength of feeling around this issue which is why the prime minister came to the House to apologise and has talked about the mistakes made. We’ll have more to say at the conclusion of the process.”
The spokesperson also affirmed that the prime minister had not personally received a fixed penalty notice.
They also said that spending on free lateral flow tests was “simply unsustainable”.
“I think we need to look at where we are in the course of this pandemic,” they went on: “We know there is relatively high prevalence of Covid at the moment but because of vaccines, because of therapeutics and other approaches, we are not seeing it have the knock-on impact when it comes to requiring the most intensive hospital treatment.”
“At the same time, the provision of free tests was costing taxpayers 2 billion a month and that is simply unsustainable,” they added.
The spokesperson said the government expected people to use their own “good judgement” on whether to socialise or leave the house if they felt they had Covid symptoms.
“I think anyone, even pre-Covid, would recognise if they have symptoms of an infectious disease, something like flu, they should stay home and not infect their loved ones or colleagues, and it is that sort of good judgement that we expect to see going forward,” he explained.