The Health Secretary was pictured without wearing a face mask while travelling in his ministerial car on Monday. The revelation has prompted No10 to issue a warning to all ministers, reminding them face coverings must be worn while travelling in a chauffeur-driven car.
Passengers in taxis and private hire cars are required to wear face masks, with fines of £200 for flouting the rules.
The fines, which reduce to £100 if paid within 14 days, can stretch to £6,400 for repeated breaches.
But there is a loophole for chauffeur-driven vehicles, which are exempt from the rules governing black cabs and Ubers.
Despite this, Downing Street wants ministers to set an example to the public and has asked MPs to wear masks when travelling in Government vehicles.
Last month, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said that while Government cars were not classified as private hire vehicles “the PM and ministers will be wearing face coverings in line with the guidance”.
But the picture of the Health Secretary contravenes that advice.
Asked if Mr Hancock would be reprimanded, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I haven’t seen the picture.
“On the general point, we set out at the time that we were making face coverings available in all ministerial cars so that ministers would be able to wear them.”
The spokesman added: “The advice was that ministers should wear face coverings and they were made available within the cars which ministers use.”
It is understood that Mr Hancock had been wearing a mask on the journey but he removed it as his car approached the Department of Health and Social Care.
More to follow…