Cabinet Minister Defends Visiting Parents During Coronavirus Lockdown

Housing, communities and local government secretary Robert Jenrick answering questions from the media at Downing Street. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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LATEST: Downing Street Defends Housing Secretary Who Visited Parents During Coronavirus Lockdown

A government minister has insisted he did not break coronavirus rules on social distancing rules despite travelling 40 miles to visit his elderly parents. 

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick is among the senior members of Boris Johnson’s government instructing the public to stay at home amid the Covid-19 lockdown. 

But the Guardian reported on Thursday that the MP for Newark left his Hereford home at the weekend to visit his father and mother, aged 79 and 69, in Shropshire. The newspaper cites a “witness” in its reporting.

The cabinet minister, 38, later defended the move by saying he dropped off “essentials”, including medication. A source close to the minister had told the newspaper he did not enter the house.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that Jenrick had travelled from his residence in London to a “second home” in Herefordshire during the lockdown.

Jenrick wrote on Twitter: “For clarity - my parents asked me to deliver some essentials - including medicines.

“They are both self-isolating due to age and my father’s medical condition and I respected social distancing rules.”

The minister told the Daily Mail: “My house in Herefordshire is the place I, my wife and my young children consider to be our family home and my family were there before any restrictions on travel were announced.

“I have been working in London on ministerial duties, putting in place the system to shield the group most vulnerable to coronavirus and organising the response at a local level.

“Once I was able to work from home it was right that I went home to do so and be with my wife and also help care for my three young children.”

He added that he would be staying at the family home until Government advice changes or he is needed in Westminster.

The government’s official guidance on visiting elderly relatives states that while “you should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home ... you may leave your house to help them, for example by dropping shopping or medication at their door”.

Jenrick has recently said that people should help their neighbours instead of relatives travelling.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “While we create physical distance between ourselves, we must at the same time have closer social support for our neighbour.”

The visit came after Jenrick appealed for people not to visit their family on Mother’s Day.

On Sunday, Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned her position as Scotland’s chief medical officer after she visited her holiday home twice during the coronavirus lockdown.

Questions were raised over whether Jenrick broke lockdown rules.

Labour’s shadow community secretary Steve Reed said: “So important that government ministers follow the rules they are laying down for the rest of the country to follow - Jenrick must explain why this journey was unavoidable or consider his position. Rules must apply to everyone.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.