LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 05: Government advisor, Dominic Cummings arrives at Downing Street on September 5, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images) The British government dug in Saturday to defend Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top adviser, Dominic Cummings, for traveling more than 250 miles (400 kilometers) to his parents’ house during a nationwide lockdown at a time when he suspected he had the coronavirus.
Opponents demanded Cummings’ resignation after The Guardian and Mirror newspapers revealed he had driven from London to the property in Durham, northeast England, with his wife and son at the end of March. A lockdown that began March 23 stipulated that people should remain at their primary residence, leaving only for essential local errands and exercise, and not visit relatives. Anyone with symptoms was advised told to completely isolate themselves.
Johnson’s office said in a statement that Cummings made the trip because his wife was showing coronavirus symptoms, he correctly thought he was likely to also get sick, and relatives had offered to help look after the couple’s 4-year-old son. It said Cummings stayed in a house “near to but separate from” his extended family.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
“The prime minister gives Mr. Cummings his full support," said a visibly uncomfortable Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who was peppered with questions about Cummings’ trip during the government’s daily coronavirus news conference.
Shapps said Cummings had followed lockdown rules by “staying in place with his family, which is the right thing to do.”
“This wasn’t visiting a holiday home or going to visit someone," he said. "This was going to stay put […]