Life in lockdown in Cornwall on the day Boris Johnson hosted a drink party in his back garden
On May 20, 2020, people were told to stay away from Cornwall, those living here were still under a strict lockdown – and holidaymakers were fined for visiting the Duchy.
On the same day, the back garden of 10 Downing Street was full of government ministers, aides and hangers enjoying a drink – as the rest of the country faced pandemic unrest.
A leaked memo recently revealed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s private secretary had organized the unlawful gathering (under Covid restrictions) and that the Prime Minister himself was there.
Read: Boris Johnson apologizes for Downing Street lockdown party and confirms he attended
The BYOB party is currently under police investigation, and many across the country have criticized the government for hypocritically telling people to play by the rules.
Cornwall on the day of the feast was a very different place to the back garden of Boris Johnson’s home.
Think back to May 2020 – when a minor heat wave made many people start to really start to feel like they were mostly locked indoors and away from friends and extended family.
The beaches began to fill up, but local councilors – including those in Cornwall – pleaded with the public to stay away, and the police began to crack down on those who broke the rules.
On May 20, CornwallLive reported that a group of holidaymakers had been fined for driving from London to Cornwall.
The four had traveled from London for a holiday and were surprised by Devon and Cornwall police patrolling near Bodmin and Wadebridge.
The group received “strong advice” and was fired.
Around the same time fines for Covid breaches had doubled and then started at £100 for a first offence.
Just two days after Boris’ sunny garden party, the Council issued another warning – this time to secondary owners and people considering taking a chance with the lockdown rules.
The warning came after more than 2,100 complaints since the lockdown began about breaches.
The warning read: ‘Restrictions on holiday accommodation remain in place and public protection officers will respond to complaints from any business suspected of breaking the rules over the weekend, including carrying out property inspections. potential premises illegally opened to holidaymakers.
“There are certain exemptions to the opening of holiday accommodation, for example people who live there permanently, people who cannot return home and accommodation for key workers. The evidence supporting these Claimed exemptions are verified by officers.
‘Police have warned they have the option to visit and fine people staying in second homes, caravans and motorhomes and will ask them to return home.’
The message to potential visitors was clear: “come back later”.
Rob Nolan, then the council’s portfolio holder for the environment and public protection, said visitors should suspend travel until things were safer.
He said: “Now that government guidelines have changed, it’s easy for all of us to think we can relax and get back to normal.
“But the virus is still there and we must continue our good work to try to contain this disease and prevent it from spreading in our communities.
“If you are a resident, enjoy our beautiful coastline and countryside responsibly and respectfully this weekend and remember to socially distance at all times. If a beach, park, or parking lot seems very busy, the safest thing to do is to turn around and go somewhere else.
“If you are a visitor, please do not come to Cornwall now, but we ask that you please return later when this crisis is over.”
And for the people who lived here, the rules were still very strict.
You could only meet one other person outside of your household, and only outside. And you still weren’t allowed to travel long distances on vacation to help curb the virus – against which there was no vaccine available at the time.
Leaving your home always required a ‘reasonable excuse’, such as for daily exercise, food, essential work – or local socializing from a single person at a distance of two meters.
Cornwall Council was encouraging people to report lockdown breaches, and our beaches were still incredibly quiet compared to a normal year.
Many hotels, restaurants and pubs were still closed. Some of them forever, after the financial blow of the lockdown put them on the brink of bankruptcy.
And care homes were still reporting frequent deaths of residents, who couldn’t handle the damage a Covid infection had wreaked on their bodies.
And it wasn’t just Cornwall, the whole of the UK was still under far stricter rules, it seems, than the Prime Minister.
Police forces in England and Wales issued 14,244 fines for breaching coronavirus lockdown laws between March 27 and May 11, figures from the National Council of Chief Constables show.
Officers were forced to break up rallies and demonstrations, including house parties across the Tamar in Plymouth.
About 50 people broke social distancing rules and dozens of police patrolled the protest, making 19 arrests – including the brother of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn – and issuing fines on the spot.
Officers broke up a street party of 100 people in Handsworth, Birmingham, on May 22, telling the crowd that such gatherings were in breach of government orders.
On the same day, news emerged that then-Prime Minister’s aide Dominic Cummings had traveled 260 miles to Durham with his wife and child, breaking lockdown rules at the height of the crisis. Covid epidemic.
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