DOWNING Street staff drank every week during the pandemic as Boris Johnson "encouraged" them to "let off steam" despite indoor socialising being banned.

Staff at Downing Street reportedly held "wine-time Fridays" and the Prime Minister witnessed them happening on several occasions, the Daily Mirror alleges.

Johnson is also said to have attended a "handful" of the gatherings at points when indoor socialising was banned.

The regular event was apparently so popular that staff invested in a £142 drinks fridge to fill up with booze.

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Sources claimed that staff took turns to visit the local Tesco Metro in Westminster in order to fill up the 34-bottle capacity fridge.

A picture was shared with the Mirror of the fridge being delivered to Downing Street on December 11, 2020.

At the time, people from different households were not permitted to meet indoors, unless “reasonably necessary” for work purposes.

It is thought that "wine-time Fridays" was scheduled into electronic calendars of about 50 No 10 staff and took place between 4pm and 7pm every week and is understood to have been a long-standing tradition before the pandemic but continued even while restrictions were in place.

One source told the Mirror: “Boris used to stop by for a chat while they had a drink.
It was on the way up to his flat and the door was usually open. He knew about it and encouraged it."

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Another added: “He could see everyone sitting there drinking as he walked up.

“He would come in and say ‘Hello everyone had a hard week? Letting off some steam? Oh great’.

“The idea that he didn’t know there were drinks is total nonsense. If the PM tells you to ‘let off steam’, he’s basically saying this is fine.”

The regular parties are said to have often gone on past midnight and were particularly popular from Autumn 2020 to Spring 2021 but the popularity waned as restrictions began to ease.