New claims that Dominic Cummings flouted lockdown pointers emerged on a day when ministers vociferously defended the prime minister’s prime aide.
News broke on Friday that he travelled to Durham to be shut to his household after his spouse started exhibiting signs of coronavirus.
The authorities spent Saturday rallying spherical Boris Johnson’s particular adviser with Transport Minister Grant Shapps saying it had at all times been permissible for households to journey to be nearer to their relations so long as they “go to that location and stay in that location”.
During Saturday’s Downing Street press briefing Mr Shapps claimed: “It’s for an individual to make the decision: ‘How do I make sure I’ve got enough support around the family?”‘
He added: “I think that will be different for different people under whatever circumstances their particular family differences happen to dictate.”
Since then new claims have been made by two eyewitnesses who instructed The Observer and the Mirror that Mr Cummings and his spouse had been once more up in County Durham the weekend after he had returned to work.
It is claimed he was noticed in Houghall Woods close to his dad and mom’ home on 19 April, which was going in opposition to the federal government’s stay-at-home message.
People should not permitted to keep in a single day wherever apart from their principal residence – together with travelling to second properties or staying in caravans.
“Leaving your home – the place you live – to stay at another home is not allowed,” it says.
On Easter Sunday, retired chemistry instructor Robin Lees, 70, claimed he noticed Mr Cummings and his household strolling by the River Tees in Barnard Castle, about 30 miles from his dad and mom’ residence.
Until Saturday evening, ministers appeared to be below the impression Mr Cummings had stayed put throughout his time in Durham.
Mr Shapps mentioned: “The decision here was to go to that location and stay in that location.”
But the trip to Barnard Castle on 12 April if right, would forged doubt over that assertion.
So did Mr Cummings flout the rules? He can declare he travelled a “reasonable distance” for train, in accordance with steerage issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing in early April.
It said: “We don’t want the public sanctioned for travelling a reasonable distance to exercise.”
The steerage states it was permissible to drive to the countryside for a stroll, offering extra time was spent strolling than driving.
The authorities’s steerage revealed when lockdown started listed the circumstances during which a person could go away their residence, they included:
- For work, the place you can not work from home
- When going to outlets which are permitted to be open – to get issues like meals and drugs
- To train or spend time outside
- For any medical want, together with to donate blood, keep away from sickness or harm, escape danger of hurt, or to present care or assist to a weak person
Travelling lengthy distances in order that childcare could possibly be offered by relations was not included within the authorities’s revealed steerage.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, becoming a member of a refrain of ministerial assist for Mr Cummings, mentioned: “Dom Cummings followed the guidelines and looked after his family. End of story.”
However, the federal government’s shutdown steerage didn’t state that individuals had been free to ensure that that they had quick access to their household assist networks.
It mentioned: “You shouldn’t be visiting relations who don’t dwell in your house.
“You ought to communicate with them utilizing telephone or video calls.”
The steerage additionally didn’t appear to recommend that individuals might journey to a brand new deal with so as to get further assist, stating they weren’t permitted to keep in a single day wherever apart from their principal residence – together with travelling to second properties or staying in caravans.
“Leaving your home – the place you live – to stay at another home is not allowed,” it mentioned.
Only in distinctive circumstances had been folks allowed to attend relations’ properties; to drop off meals, for instance, or to ship drugs to their door.
It added: “If you might be exhibiting coronavirus signs, or for those who or any of your family are self-isolating, you must keep at residence – that is vital to staying secure and saving lives.”