Video of Christiane Amanpour quizzing Boris Johnson on masks watched 1.4M times
A video of CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour quizzing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson over mask wearing has now been viewed well over one million times.
The Conservative leader became the subject of criticism on social media after he was pictured at the COP26 climate change conference sitting next to 95-year-old naturalist Sir David Attenborough without wearing a face mask.
Amanpour asked Johnson about the issue during an interview on Tuesday in an exchange that has since gone viral on Twitter.
Attenborough is widely considered a “national treasure” in the UK and is a leading advocate for tackling climate change.
One video of Amanpour’s conversation with Johnson, shared by journalist Jonathan Lis, had been viewed 1.4 million times by Wednesday morning.
A tweet from Amanpour featuring the video had been viewed more than 850,000 times at the time of writing.
Johnson was photographed at COP26 on Monday sitting between Attenborough and U.N. Secretary General António Guterres. Both men were wearing masks but the prime minister was not.
As photographs circulated on social media, there was speculation that Johnson was asleep at the event but 10 Downing Street denied that this was the case. President Joe Biden was also captured on camera appearing to fall asleep at the conference.
Amanpour asked Johnson: “Do you want to answer what’s going around on social media? You brought up the national treasure, Sir David Attenborough. And there you all were, in the plenary, he’s 95-years-old, he was wearing [a] mask, and you weren’t.”
“It’s all over the place,” Amanpour said as Johnson appeared to look puzzled by the question. “You weren’t wearing a mask yesterday sitting next to 95-year-old national treasure David Attenborough.”
“I’ve been wearing a mask when in confined spaces with people that I don’t normally meet and I think it’s up to people to take a judgment about whether they’re at a reasonable distance from someone and whether they’re with someone they don’t normally meet.”
“That’s the approach we take,” the prime minister said.
Johnson has been criticized in the past for not wearing a face mask and members of his party have frequently gone without masks in the House of Commons of the British parliament.
People in the UK are no longer required to wear face coverings in indoor settings or on public transport after the rule was lifted on July 19, and government guidance says the country is “moving to an approach that enables personal risk-based judgments.”
“We expect and recommend that members of the public continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet,” the guidance says.
Attenborough is most famous for his nature documentaries and has been a household name in the UK for decades.
He delivered a speech at COP26 urging action on climate change and received a standing ovation.
Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres (left), British prime Minister Boris Johnson (centre) and Sir David Attenborough attend the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 at SECC on November 1, 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Johnson has been criticized for not wearing a mask while sitting next to the 95-year-old Attenborough. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images