The Sun published the photos of Hancock, who is married, in his office in a clinch with Gina Coladangelo, who he hired as a non-executive director at the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Hancock is facing questions about whether he broke Covid rules when the image was taken on May 6, when meeting people from other households was still largely not allowed indoors.
Rules were eventually relaxed to allow groups of six to meet indoors and hug from May 17.
HuffPost UK used internet archive Wayback Machine to access the government’s webpage Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do, dated May 6, when England was still at step two in its road map out of lockdown.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he was “sure” that Hancock and Coladangelo followed Covid restrictions.
But here’s why they appear to have broken the rules:
No mixing of households indoors
The rules clearly state that “you must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with, unless you have formed a support bubble with them, or another exemption applies”.
Support bubbles were only permitted for people who lived alone, for sole carers within a household, for parents of children under two, or under five if the child was disabled and needed continuons care, or if you were aged 16 or 17 and lived with others of a similar age.
Hancock, who is 42, is married to his wife of 15 years, Martha Hoyer Millar and has three children.
The Sun published photos of Millar leaving what the newspaper said was the couple’s London home on Friday.
In a 2019 interview with Grazia, Hancock revealed his eldest daughter was 12 at the time, suggesting the health secretary would have been able to form a childcare bubble with another household (for children under 14) - but only for the purpose of looking after the children.
As far as we know, Hancock’s children were not in his office on May 6.
Coladangelo is a non-executive director at the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is married to Oliver Tress, the founder of the fashion and lifestyle store Oliver Bonas.
The Mail reported that Coladangelo lives with her fashion tycoon husband and their three children.
What about rules at work?
The government’s guidance stipulated that “you should continue to work from home where you can”.
But Hancock was undoubtedly required to attend the office as health secretary amid the Covid pandemic.
Coladangelo, as a senior figure within DHSC, also had a strong case for attending work.
But even the current version of government guidance for working in offices states that “you should maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible” at a distance of two metres, or one-metre “plus” measures that mitigate risk, such as wearing masks.
Kissing a colleague in the office would fall foul of this guidance.
There were a range of other exemptions to the Covid rules.
Providing emergency assistance to avoid injury or harm.
Compassionate visits to people who are dying, who are in a care home or to accompany someone to a medical appointment.
To protest, vote, or buy or sell a house.
It does not appear that any of these applied to Hancock and Coladangelo.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.