Boris Johnson once again flouted official requests to wear a mask as he watched a performance of Macbeth at a busy theatre in north London on Tuesday night, witnesses say.
The prime minister was in the audience to see the Shakespearean tragedy at the Almeida theatre in Islington, after a torrid few days in which backbench Tories have accused him of losing the plot.
A fellow audience member said Johnson was not wearing a face covering during the performance, despite the theatre’s requests for visitors to wear one at all times when not eating or drinking. He was also photographed inside a public area of the theatre without a mask on, alongside someone believed to be a member of his family.
Ticket-holders were emailed before the performance, saying: “Remember to wear a face covering at all times throughout the building unless you are exempt.”
The theatre has a message on its website saying it was asking all patrons to wear a mask in the theatre, including during the performance, to protect “all our staff, cast and other audience members from Covid”. There was also an announcement and signs up around the building requesting mask wearing.
One witness said most people in the theatre were complying with the rules but the prime minister only slipped his mask back on at the end as the lights went up.
A second audience member on the other side of the auditorium said she had seen him not wearing a mask through the first half, and while he was in the bar area with his fellow guest. It is believed he had his mask round his chin during the first half, and off completely during the second half.
Downing Street was approached for comment on Tuesday night.
Johnson’s apparent decision not to wear a mask at the theatre comes after he was previously criticised for not wearing a mask while sitting next to 95-year-old David Attenborough at the Cop26 summit, while with medical staff in a corridor at Hexham hospital and on a train in Manchester.
The prime minister apologised over the hospital incident, although said it was for “barely 30 seconds”.
He has recently been wearing one while seated in the House of Commons chamber, in common with other frontbenchers.
Johnson has been in hot water over recent days over his handling of various policy areas, from rail to social care, as well as his chaotic speech to the CBI on Monday. During the speech, he lost his place in the text for about 20 seconds, saying “forgive me” three times, and then went into a lengthy diversion about Peppa Pig World, which he visited on Sunday with his wife and young child.