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A government minister has insisted he did not break coronavirus rules on social distancing rules despite travelling 40 miles to visit his elderly parents.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick is among the senior members of Boris Johnson’s government instructing the public to stay at home amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
But the Guardian reported on Thursday that the MP for Newark left his Hereford home at the weekend to visit his father and mother, aged 79 and 69, in Shropshire. The newspaper cites a “witness” in its reporting.
The cabinet minister, 38, later defended the move by saying he dropped off “essentials”, including medication. A source close to the minister had told the newspaper he did not enter the house.
Jenrick wrote on Twitter: “For clarity – my parents asked me to deliver some essentials – including medicines.
“They are both self-isolating due to age and my father’s medical condition and I respected social distancing rules.”
The government’s official guidance on visiting elderly relatives states that while “you should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home … you may leave your house to help them, for example by dropping shopping or medication at their door”.
For clarity – my parents asked me to deliver some essentials – including medicines.
They are both self-isolating due to age and my father’s medical condition and I respected social distancing rules.https://t.co/XlRujT8S5Y
— Robert Jenrick (@RobertJenrick) April 9, 2020
Jenrick has recently said that people should help their neighbours instead of relatives travelling.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “While we create physical distance between ourselves, we must at the same time have closer social support for our neighbour.”
The visit came after Jenrick appealed for people not to visit their family on Mother’s Day.
Questions were raised over whether Jenrick broke lockdown rules.
Labour’s shadow community secretary Steve Reed said: “So important that government ministers follow the rules they are laying down for the rest of the country to follow – Jenrick must explain why this journey was unavoidable or consider his position. Rules must apply to everyone.”