Responding to various organisations who had written to him, Michael wrote:-
It was not my intention to cause offence, let alone ‘demoralise’ anyone as some have claimed, in the BBC TV interview a few days’ back and I apologise if I have genuinely done so. I applaud the work of nurses, GPs, and others in the medical and teaching professions who worked long hours under difficult, and sometimes impossible, conditions during the height of the Covid pandemic to keep us all safe and to educate our children. We all owe a debt to them which will be difficult to repay.
In a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with BBC Television News, I explained that I was neither judging nor chastising the minority of nurses or teachers who chose to unwind with a few work colleagues after a long shift. Nor did I suggest that any were drunk. I know of none who were so. Of course, I am well aware that having a drink after a shift would be against the rules, but I was aware of a number of instances where this had happened, albeit in a minority of cases. Since that interview, a number of other cases have been brought to my attention which is not surprising given that there are some 500,000 nurses and 625,000 teachers throughout Britain. Nevertheless, to my knowledge, the number of after work drinks remain a small minority. My error in one part of the programme – which was then repeated on tv – was to give the impression this was general practice by nurses and teachers: this was never the case.
I also made the point that if people were working closely together during the day and then met alone, without outsiders being present, they would be unlikely to spread infection. Simply that. And in the small number of cases where people did have a quick drink with close work colleagues, I both understand and sympathise with workers who had endured a long and exhausting day. We are all human.
Personally, I did abide by all the rules of lockdown as I was working remotely on my own in Lichfield, so I am not making any excuses for myself. But frankly, a little tolerance for everyone who had been in a stressful work environment, and then met with close work colleagues after, would be no bad thing.