Boris Johnson has apologised for not wearing a mask during a visit to a hospital.
Appearing before a committee of senior MPs on Wednesday, the prime minister said he had “mistakenly” forgotten to put on his face covering.
“There were barely 30 seconds when I wasn’t wearing a mask,” he said. “I apologise for it.”
Johnson visited Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland last week, and photographs showed him meeting masked nurses at the hospital, talking to them and bumping elbows with them, despite not having his face covered.
Soon after that photo opportunity, the prime minister put on a mask, which had been handed to him by an aide.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said the prime minister “did wear a mask for the majority of the visit”.
But “after the prime minister left a welcome meeting, he walked along a mezzanine corridor, for a very short period of time, without a mask”.
“As soon as this was identified he was given a mask and he put it on,” the trust said.
At a Downing Street press briefing on Monday, Johnson insisted that he takes a “responsible” approach to wearing a mask.
“I wear a mask wherever the rules say that I should, and I urge everybody else to do the same,” he said. “People have actually seen me wearing face coverings quite a bit more regularly as we have seen the numbers ticking up in the UK.
“I think that is the responsible thing to do and I am going to continue to do it.”