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Boris and Carrie Johnson decamped from Downing Street to their country residence of Chequers – with the Prime Minister commuting back and forth – in the early days of the pandemic because it was safer for Mr Johnson’s pregnant then-fiancee, No 10 has said.
Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister and his now-wife based themselves at the Buckinghamshire country house in March 2020 after Mrs Johnson was deemed vulnerable due to being heavily pregnant.
It comes after news website Tortoise reported that Mr Johnson had commuted back and forth to Downing Street between March 16 and 27, despite guidance against non-essential travel and then later that people should “remain in their primary residence”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “At the time, as you know, Mrs Johnson was heavily pregnant and had been placed in a vulnerable category and advised to minimise social contacts, so in line with clinical guidance and to minimise the risk to her they were based at Chequers during that period, with the Prime Minister commuting to Downing Street to work.”
The spokesman said that Mrs Johnson would have been at risk staying in No 10 because the buildings were both residences and a place of work and that “someone living there would also use the same entrance to the hundreds of individuals that work within Downing Street”.
The spokesman said the guidance on not travelling to second homes did not come in until March 22, “at which point the Prime Minister and his wife were already based in Chequers, acting in line with clinical guidance”.
And when asked if the PM was therefore putting his wife at risk by commuting during the period, the spokesman said: “The Prime Minister was leading the coronavirus response, the pandemic response, and in line with a number of individuals who were required to still be in work… that’s why the Prime Minister was coming to No 10 for necessary work meetings.”
The spokesman said there would have been staff at Chequers with the couple, and when asked if they had any non-work visitors he said: “Well, they were acting in accordance with the guidance and any subsequent legislation at all times. So beyond that, I don’t have any more to add.”