Government denies it will review fines given to parents seeking childcare after Hancock appeared to suggest otherwise

The government has denied it will review coronavirus penalty fines issued to parents travelling for childcare during the lockdown, after the health secretary said ministers would "look at it".

At the daily coronavirus update, Matt Hancock faced several questions relating to a 260-mile trip made by the prime minister's chief aide Dominic Cummings during lockdown.

However, one question posed by a member of the public initially appeared to have sparked a potential policy change.

Martin, a vicar from Brighton, asked about penalty fines handed out over lockdown violations, after Dominic Cummings made a trip to his parent's house so he could be closer to childcare, should he and his wife become incapacitated by Covid-19.

“Will the government review all penalty fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes during lockdown?” He asked.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he would "talk to my Treasury colleagues" to work out whether the £30 fines could be refunded.

Mr Hancock added: “It’s a very good question and we do understand the impact and the need for making sure that children get adequate childcare, that is one of the significant concerns that we have had all the way through this.”

He said it was "perfectly reasonable" for ministers to consider refunding the fines, adding, how they will "look at it" and make an announcement if a change is agreed.

After the press conference, however, a Downing Street source denied the fines would be reviewed.

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston said he had learnt that "the government doesn't think that it's going to have to pay any of those fines back, or there's anything to review".

Robert Peston analyses Tuesday evening's press conference:

The source suggested Mr Hancock was simply saying he would take the question to the relevant department as it was not his policy area.

The press conference followed a tough weekend for the government, in which it was revealed Mr Cummings apparently flouted lockdown rules when he had coronavirus symptoms.

In a press conference on Monday he said he believed he acted "reasonably" and within the law by making the journey, adding how he only made the trip due to fears over a lack of childcare if he and his wife became too ill with Covid-19 to look after their four-year-old son.

Mr Cummings added he also made a trip to Barnard Castle - some 30 minutes away from where he was staying - while in County Durham to test his eyesight which he felt had been affected by the respiratory disease, and he wanted to go for a test drive before returning with his family to London.

Mr Hancock told the Downing Street briefing he believes Mr Cummings acted "within the guidelines" when he travelled to Durham.

Mr Hancock caught coronavirus at around the same time as Mr Cummings, however did not leave home to seek childcare.

Asked by ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston about the differences in the two cases, Mr Hancock said: “The relevant difference is that we had childcare readily available at home and Mr Cummings didn’t.”

Peston was not offered a follow up to his question, nor were some other journalists who asked similar question.

Mr Hancock said he understood the “anger that some people feel” over Mr Cummings' actions, but said the focus was on the next steps in tackling the crisis.

“I regret the anger that some people feel and Mr Cummings himself said that – with hindsight – he should have got all the facts out earlier,” Mr Hancock said.

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