Boris Johnson apologized for not wearing a mask during a visit to a hospital.
Appearing before a committee of senior lawmakers on Wednesday, the prime minister said he had “mistakenly” forgotten to put on his face.
“It was barely 30 seconds when I wasn’t wearing a mask,” he said. “I’m sorry about that.”
Johnson visited Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland last week, and photos showed him meeting masked nurses at the hospital, talking to them and slapping elbows with them, despite not having his face covered.
Shortly after that photo shoot, the prime minister put on a mask that was handed to him by an assistant.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said the prime minister “wore a mask for the majority of the visit”.
But “after the prime minister left a welcome meeting, he walked down a mezzanine corridor, for a very short time, without a mask.”
“As soon as that was identified, he got a mask and he put it on,” the trust said.
At a Downing Street press conference Monday, Johnson insisted he takes a “responsible” approach to wearing a mask.
“I wear a mask wherever the rules say I should, and I encourage everyone else to do the same,” he said. “People have actually seen me wear face covers quite regularly because we’ve seen the numbers rise in the UK.
“I think that’s the responsible thing and I’ll keep doing it.”