‘I’m only human’: Health secretary apologises for ‘momentary lapse’ in breaking social distancing

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 10: British Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives at Downing Street in London, United Kingdom on June 10, 2020. (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 10: British Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives at Downing Street in London, United Kingdom on June 10, 2020. (Photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Matt Hancock has apologised for breaking social distancing rules by patting a colleague’s back in the House of Commons last week.

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While appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday, the health secretary was shown a clip of the incident on Tuesday.

In a clip which quickly garnered thousands of views after it was posted on Twitter, the health secretary can be seen putting his arm across a colleague's shoulder as he enters the Commons.

Hancock was asked by host Nick Robinson whether the footage proved that it was “one rule for him and another for everybody else”.

He replied: "It was just totally natural. This shows how difficult social distancing is.

"I know these rules inside out and I haven't seen my colleague for weeks and I really like him.

"All I can do is say I'm incredibly sorry for this momentary breach. It's because I'm human, we're all human and I'm not less determined to follow the rules because of a momentary breach."

It comes as the government is said to be considering reducing the amount of distance people are required to keep from each other from two metres to one.

Hancock confirmed that ministers will announce a further easing of the lockdown this week, and whether the two-metre rule will also change.

"I think we are about to see another step in the plan and this week we will announce further details of the measures that we can take to relieve some of the national lockdown measures at the start of July, including on July 4,” he added.

"That review (on the two-metre rule) will come to bear this week and we will be setting out further details this week on the measures in that space.

"We're going to set out those details absolutely this week."

Hancock claims England is "clearly on track" to further ease the coronavirus lockdown, with the hope pubs, restaurants and hairdressers could reopen as early as July 4.

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