Boris Johnson Apologizes for 'Misspeaking' About COVID-19 Rules

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologized for failing to clarify details of his own COVID-19 rules which come into force in the northeast of England later this week.

The new rules, which apply from midnight on Wednesday, mean that it would be against regulations for people to "mix with people outside their household or bubble in indoor settings, including pubs and restaurants."

However, when asked at a press conference about the forthcoming rules and whether people could meet in a pub garden, Johnson said: "In the northeast and other areas where extra tight measures have been brought in, you should follow the guidance of local authorities. It's six in a home or six in hospitality but as I understand it, not six outside."

Johnson later apologised for misspeaking.

He wrote on Twitter: "Apologies, I misspoke today. In the North East, new rules mean you cannot meet people from different households in social settings indoors, including in pubs, restaurants and your home. You should also avoid socializing with other households outside.

"This is vital to control the spread of coronavirus and keep everyone safe. If you are in a high risk area, please continue to follow the guidelines from local authorities."

Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Exeter College on September 29, 2020 in Exeter, England. Getty Images/Finnbarr Webster

The opposition Labour Party criticized the prime minister for not knowing the rules.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: "For the Prime Minister to not understand his own rules is grossly incompetent. These new restrictions are due to come into force across huge parts of the country tonight. The Government needs to get a grip."

In those parts of England not subject to greater restrictions, the rule of six means that social gatherings of more than six people are not allowed. The rules were bought in to combat the spread of COVID-19 after the prime minister said a second wave of the virus was taking place across the U.K.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), COVID-19 deaths have increased in six of the nine regions in England.

The regions where deaths increased were the north west, the west midlands, London, Yorkshire & the Humber, the north east and the east midlands.

Meanwhile, Blaenau Gwent in Wales has the highest and fastest rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.K., according to analysis from the BBC. In the week to 25 September, according to Public Health Wales, the borough saw a case rate of 304.9 positive results per 100,000.