Allegra Stratton, a spokesperson for UK prime minister Boris Johnson, has resigned her post after a video leaked to ITV showed her joking about an alleged Christmas party that took place in Downing Street in violation of the government's COVID-19 lockdown rules.
A tearful Stratton said her remarks seem to make fun of the COVID-19 restrictions.
"That was never my intention. I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days and I offer my profound apologies to all of you at home for them," she said.
Stratton apologized to people "who lost loved ones, who endured intolerable loneliness and who struggled with their businesses."
The Christmas party debacle could undermine efforts by Johnson's government to control the pandemic as the Omicron variant threatens to trigger another wave of sickness and death in the country.
"In the middle of a national crisis where we need to react quickly and need to know how to react, we need a government that can guide us; a government that we think of as 'them', and as dishonest, and as liars, is not the government we need right now," Stephen Reicher, a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews," told the Guardian.
The Christmas party report represents a "betrayal of trust," said Heidi Larson, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Vaccine Confidence Project. "It's not good for a public that is really tired, that's exhausted and ready to see the end of this pandemic."
Johnson on Dec. 8 apologized for the video.
He said he is "furious" about it and has launched a probe into whether any COVID-19 rules were broken.