Politics

Covid UK: ‘Raging’ families relive lockdown funerals they held in May 2020 as Boris Johnson partied


Much of Britain was paralysed in a state of fear over coronavirus on May 20, 2020, with the country only two months into the first national lockdown.

About ten days earlier the Government had launched a ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ campaign, and the first vaccines would not be given for another seven months.

Indoor socialising with other households was strictly banned and only two people were allowed to meet outside in a public space such as a park while at least 6ft (2m) apart.

There was an exemption on gatherings where ‘essential for work purposes’ – but guidance said workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace’. 

No10 has relied on the get-outs for work when responding to other claims about parties.

Two women at Wandsworth Common in London on May 20, 2020

Two women at Wandsworth Common in London on May 20, 2020

Britons were regularly washing their hands to stay safe and many mourners had to watch funerals from home on live-streams, with official guidance saying the only people allowed to attend were ‘members of the deceased person’s household and close family members’.

Some mothers were giving birth without partners, shoppers were queuing outside supermarkets which limited numbers of shoppers and others had vital medical appointments put back as hospitals struggled to cope with Covid-19 patients.

As for working from home, Boris Johnson said on May 10, 2020 that people should ‘work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home’ and also advised them to avoid public transport to maintain social distancing. 

Queues at a McDonald's in Peterborough opening on May 20, 2020

Queues at a McDonald’s in Peterborough opening on May 20, 2020  

On May 20, 2020, there were 2,700 daily positive cases while the seven-day average stood at 2,328 – a number that was falling after hitting an average of 4,774 one month earlier.

There were also 268 deaths within 28 days of a positive test on May 20, 2020, with a seven-day average of 255. This was also down, from a peak of 976 on April 10.

As for the global picture, experts at Johns Hopkins University said at least 323,286 people were known to have died from Covid-19 while at least 4,897,567 had been infected.

Police at the Peterborough McDonald's at lunchtime on May 20, 2020

Police at the Peterborough McDonald’s at lunchtime on May 20, 2020

And then-US president Donald Trump said having more cases in the US than any other country was a ‘badge of honour’, because it meant the US had ‘more testing than anybody else’.

In Britain, non-essential shops were shut and hospitality businesses remained closed, although a handful of fast food chains began reopening for takeaway on the day.

Photographs from the day show police patrolling a park in London to look for rule-breakers, and a group of swimmers in Edinburgh being broken up by officers. 

Thousands of people at Durdle Door beach in Dorset on May 20, 2020

Thousands of people at Durdle Door beach in Dorset on May 20, 2020

May 20 also saw huge queues outside McDonald’s drive-thrus as 30 were reopened to the public from 11am.  

The move led to police being called to a drive-thru branch of McDonald’s in Cambridgeshire after dozens of customers arrived when it opened.

Cars were queuing around the car park as customers rushed to get their hands on burgers, fries and milkshakes. There were similar scenes at a KFC in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough. 

A backlog of cars at a KFC outlet in Middlesbrough on May 20, 2020

A backlog of cars at a KFC outlet in Middlesbrough on May 20, 2020

Britons were also enjoying the warm weather at the time, with thousands of sun seekers photographed flocking to the iconic Durdle Door beach in Dorset on that day.

Dominic Cummings had already made his infamous 30-mile trip to Barnard Castle in County Durham to allegedly test his eyesight by this point, on April 12, although this was not revealed until newspaper reports about it on May 22. 



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