What Happened to Social Distancing in The G7 Summit?

Published June 13th, 2021 - 03:03 GMT
 G7 summit
G7 summit (Twitter)
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab insisted 'there was social distancing' at the event when asked about it on Sky News on Sunday morning. 

U.S. President Joe BidenBoris Johnson and other world leaders have been accused of breaking strict social distancing rules at the G7 summit in Cornwall over the weekend.

On Friday, delegates posed for a socially-distanced official group shot but other images revealed much more relaxed scenes.

At a beach barbecue on Saturday guests were served sirloin steak and lobster while being entertained by a sea shanty group and a Red Arrows flypast.

Many on social media pointed out the lack of social distancing at the event, including ITV's Robert Peston who shared two photos of maskless leaders chatting in close proximity on the beach.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab insisted 'there was social distancing' at the event when asked about it on Sky News on Sunday morning. 

'Maybe someone tripped up, maybe it's a mistake but it's out there and people will be reasonably saying 'You're not allowing me to gather with my friends and family at a wedding or a funeral, but look at what you guys are doing,'' interviewer Trevor Phillips said.

Raab responded that there have always been different regulations for social gatherings and government business.

Downing Street has also defended the barbecue, insisting it complied with coronavirus rules.

Less than 30 guests were at the event, the Prime Minister's spokesman said.

'The event last night was done in an entirely Covid-secure way within the existing rules,' the spokesman said.

Those attending the summit had a daily testing regime and the event was held outside.

'This was an informal gathering of the G7 leaders and rightly it is held in private ... but you can see it was a relaxed atmosphere and gave the leaders a chance to discuss outside of a formal setting.'

Some social media users had pointed out that there was likely little risk at the outdoor event as all attendees would probably have been fully vaccinated and having regular tests.

Others also said the numbers gathered on the beach paled in comparison to those able to attend cricket and football matches in recent weeks. 

However one Twitter user shared the interview clip, writing: 'One rule for them, another for us.' 

'...any surprises?,' another responded. 

'After all, double standards is the modus operandi of the UK government, the organizers of this event, is it not? 

'Remember those ministers who broke the Law and got off scot-free? Meanwhile, Joe Public must abide by it. Double standards, too right!!!'

'People at weddings have to sit 2m away wearing masks, people at the meal have to sit 1m away but if you're at a government event that should have been carried out virtually instead of this farce, you're exempt from all rules,' a third Twitter user commented. 

'Hypocrisy at it's highest level,' 

Similar comments swirled over photos of Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron walking with their arms around each other's backs. Neither leader was wearing a mask. 

On Thursday, Biden and Johnson bumped elbows in socially distanced photos but were also snapped with Biden's hand on Johnson's shoulder during an 80-minute meeting in Carbis Bay. 

The pictures prompted anger from Brits still living under coronavirus restrictions.   

'No masks and no social distancing,' one social media user wrote. 

'Why oh why are two supposedly bright people standing so closely?,' another commented.

A third user posted: 'I note there's no social distancing or mask-wearing when world leaders get together, yet there's no 'normal' in sight for the rest of us.'

UK Government guidelines allow hugging and close contact between friends and family but dictate that social distancing should continue to be observed in other situations including the workplace.

Mask wearing is not required outdoors.  

Despite strict Covid-19 regulations, there were two outbreaks of the virus at the G7.

On Thursday, a hotel housing security and media in St Ives was forced to close after a number of people tested positive for the virus.

While on Friday, German media reported that two members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's team were self isolating after testing positive.  

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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