‘No hugs, no tears, no boozy wake’: ‘Raging’ families relive lockdown funerals they held in May 2020 while Boris Johnson partied in Downing Street garden
Furious families who held funerals in lockdown as the Prime Minister partied at No10 have voiced their rage over the scandal.
Boris Johnson today finally admitted he went to a ‘party’ in the Downing Street garden at the height of lockdown on May 20, 2020 – but argued he thought it was a ‘work event’ and ‘technically’ within the rules.
Up to 30 people, including the Prime Minister and his wife, attended the ‘bring your own booze’ event, and now outraged Britons, many grieving the loss of loved ones, have been revealing their anger at the PM.
Steve Hynd, 35, and his four siblings had joined together to say goodbye to their beloved father Mike Hynd, 80, who contracted coronavirus in a Gloucester hospital the previous month.
With only five people attending the funeral and Mike’s own brother not able to be there, the family struggled through the farewell.
In a heartbreaking recollection of the funeral and the final days of his father’s life, Steve described his May 2020, saying: ‘At the end of the service there were no hugs, no shared tears, and no sharing of marginally inappropriate anecdotes at the boozy wake.
‘Instead there were just awkward goodbyes and splodges of hand sanitizer as the next casket was wheeled in for the next small group of mourners.’
And former nurse Chris Barrett-Hall, 35, had been the only relative allowed to be at his grandmother’s side when she passed away from lung cancer on May 17, 2020.
Chris Barrett-Hall with his grandmother Deirdre Llewellyn. The ex-NHS worker had also been a carer for Deirdre Llewellyn, 76, and was left heartbroken over the death of his ‘best friend’
Steve Hynd, 35, and his four siblings had joined together to say goodbye to their beloved father Mike Hynd (pictured in the Isles of Scilly 2006 with Steve’s mother) who contracted coronavirus in a Gloucester hospital the previous month
The ex-NHS worker had also been a carer for Deirdre Llewellyn, 76, and was left heartbroken over the death of his ‘best friend’.
Grieving Chris then had to spend the next few days – including May 20 – agonising over which family members could attend her funeral, drawing up plans for the day by himself due to Covid restrictions at the time.
Mr Barrett-Hall said that when he heard about the party it felt like ‘a punch right through the chest’ – as his own father and nephew had been forced to watch the funeral through the window from the car park.
He said: ‘It’s sickening to hear what Downing Street got away with when some of my family weren’t even able to see say goodbye to my grandmother.
‘My father and my baby nephew weren’t even allowed in as the numbers were too tight – they stood outside in the rain and got sopping wet.
‘On that day, I was picking between my loved ones – who were all desperate to say goodbye to my Nan – and it was the most awful task.
Former nurse Chris Barrett-Hall, 35, had been the only relative allowed to be at his grandmother’s side when she passed away from lung cancer on May 17, 2020
Deirdre Llewellyn pictured with her grandson. Chris Barrett-Hall, 35, had been the only relative allowed to be at his grandmother’s side when she passed away from lung cancer on May 17, 2020
‘My dad would have loved to say goodbye to his mother-in-law and my mum was beside herself not to have her husband there to support her.
‘It was awful to have to make those decisions knowing how it would affect people – and I was just wishing we were allowed two more seats at the service.
‘Meanwhile, Number 10 were partying and they probably don’t even regret it. When I heard on the news about this party, I smashed a mirror this morning.
‘It makes me full of rage.’
Steve Hynd had said that the send-off for his father felt ‘inadequate, a poor fraction of a funeral for a man that burst at the seams of life’.
He added: ‘Instead of holding his hand in those final weeks, I counted down the hours and days left of his life just 20 miles from the hospital where he rested.
‘I still feel disproportionately grateful to the palliative care doctor who told me she sat and held his hand while she spoke to him about steam trains.’
Steve, who is a councillor and deputy leader of Stroud Councillor Green Group, said his father had contracted Covid in a Gloucester hospital, and he was in there for a week or so ‘waiting for the symptoms to take hold’.
He added: ‘I promise you I didn’t ”make the most of the nice weather”.
‘I’m, once again, lost for words to describe this government.
‘My general thoughts are upset and anger that the PM has clearly lied to us and tried to protect himself when he should have been concentrating on saving others.
‘His claim to have ”done everything he could” to have saved these 150,000 lives is evidently nonsense.’
Only socialise with ONE person outdoors and work meetings must be ‘essential’: The lockdown rules for England on May 20, 2020
Much of Britain was paralysed in a state of fear over coronavirus on May 20, 2020, with the country only two months into the first national lockdown.
About ten days earlier the Government had launched a ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ campaign, and the first vaccines would not be given for another seven months.
Indoor socialising with other households was strictly banned and only two people were allowed to meet outside in a public space such as a park while at least 6ft (2m) apart.
There was an exemption on gatherings where ‘essential for work purposes’ – but guidance said workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace’.
No10 has relied on the get-outs for work when responding to other claims about parties.
Two women at Wandsworth Common in London on May 20, 2020
Britons were regularly washing their hands to stay safe and many mourners had to watch funerals from home on live-streams, with official guidance saying the only people allowed to attend were ‘members of the deceased person’s household and close family members’.
Some mothers were giving birth without partners, shoppers were queuing outside supermarkets which limited numbers of shoppers and others had vital medical appointments put back as hospitals struggled to cope with Covid-19 patients.
As for working from home, Boris Johnson said on May 10, 2020 that people should ‘work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home’ and also advised them to avoid public transport to maintain social distancing.
Queues at a McDonald’s in Peterborough opening on May 20, 2020
On May 20, 2020, there were 2,700 daily positive cases while the seven-day average stood at 2,328 – a number that was falling after hitting an average of 4,774 one month earlier.
There were also 268 deaths within 28 days of a positive test on May 20, 2020, with a seven-day average of 255. This was also down, from a peak of 976 on April 10.
As for the global picture, experts at Johns Hopkins University said at least 323,286 people were known to have died from Covid-19 while at least 4,897,567 had been infected.
Police at the Peterborough McDonald’s at lunchtime on May 20, 2020
And then-US president Donald Trump said having more cases in the US than any other country was a ‘badge of honour’, because it meant the US had ‘more testing than anybody else’.
In Britain, non-essential shops were shut and hospitality businesses remained closed, although a handful of fast food chains began reopening for takeaway on the day.
Photographs from the day show police patrolling a park in London to look for rule-breakers, and a group of swimmers in Edinburgh being broken up by officers.
Thousands of people at Durdle Door beach in Dorset on May 20, 2020
May 20 also saw huge queues outside McDonald’s drive-thrus as 30 were reopened to the public from 11am.
The move led to police being called to a drive-thru branch of McDonald’s in Cambridgeshire after dozens of customers arrived when it opened.
Cars were queuing around the car park as customers rushed to get their hands on burgers, fries and milkshakes. There were similar scenes at a KFC in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough.
A backlog of cars at a KFC outlet in Middlesbrough on May 20, 2020
Britons were also enjoying the warm weather at the time, with thousands of sun seekers photographed flocking to the iconic Durdle Door beach in Dorset on that day.
Dominic Cummings had already made his infamous 30-mile trip to Barnard Castle in County Durham to allegedly test his eyesight by this point, on April 12, although this was not revealed until newspaper reports about it on May 22.