Health secretary Matt Hancock found himself embroiled in an awkward conversation with Sky News presenter Kay Burley when he was asked to define the government’s definition of an “established relationship”.
In what was a very British exchange between the pair, Hancock was left stuttering and laughing nervously as he was grilled on government guidelines around casual sex and when couples do and don’t have to socially distance.
The interview comes as confusion continues over suggestions that people shouldn’t engage in casual sex in order to help limit the spread of coronavirus, with official advice being that only “established” couples should be having sex.
The health secretary has urged Britons to “be careful” when it came to having sexual relationships outside “established relationships”, saying they should “be sensible”.
#KayBurley asks the health secretary, 'how long will the ban on casual sex last?'— SkyNews (@SkyNews) September 24, 2020
Matt Hancock says sex is "ok in an established relationship" but adds people need to be "careful".
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In his Sky News interview, he was asked by Burley: “How long is this casual sex ban going to last? You’re saying that no social distancing is needed in established relationships.
“What about people who are not in established relationships?” she asked, adding: “Why am I whispering?”
Hancock laughed nervously in response: “I don’t know, you’re live on national TV Kay.”
He said the new rules meant there had to be “boundaries”, adding: “If you’re saying that two households shouldn’t mix, which we are in some parts of the country... then you have to then define what is the boundary.”
In an interview punctuated by laughter, Burley pressed Hancock on the definition of an “established relationship”, saying: “If I say I love you? Are you in an established relationship then?”
Hancock replied: “I think we should stick to the letter of it which is it is OK in an established relationship.”
Burley then asked: “What does it mean to you? I mean I know what it means to you and Mrs Hancock,” to which he responded: “That is exactly how I was going to answer. I know I’m in an established relationship.”
Hancock said: “It just means that people need to be careful. People need to be sensible. And if you’re in a relationship that’s well established that’s what it means.”
In an earlier interview, the health secretary said: “In these rules that we have to bring in, there have to be boundaries, to coin a phrase.
“If you’re saying that two households shouldn’t mix, which we are in some parts of the country – in the north-east, the north-west, in Scotland, in parts of Wales – then you have to then define what is the boundary of that.
“I think we should stick to the letter of it, which is it is OK in an established relationship.
“It just means that people need to be careful, they need to be sensible.
“If you’re in a relationship that is well established... what it means is people realising that coming into close contact with people from other households, then that is how the virus spreads.”
During the early days of the coronavirus lockdown, couples were told to move in together or stay apart but government guidance was later updated to say that those in “an established relationship” did not need to socially distance from each other.