England’s deputy chief medical officer says lockdown rules are ‘clear’ and ‘apply to call’

Oliver Dowden (right) and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, during a media b

Oliver Dowden (right) and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, during a media briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire . - Credit: PA

England's deputy chief medical officer has waded into the Dominic Cummings row by saying that the coronavirus lockdown rules are clear and apply to everybody.

Deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam made the remark when asked whether people in authority should lead by example and obey the rules following a week of pressure on the government over the actions of Boris Johnson's chief aide.

Speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, Professor Van-Tam said: 'In my opinion the rules are clear and they have always been clear.

'In my opinion they are for the benefit of all.

'In my opinion they apply to all.'

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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden was also asked about the public reaction over Cummings, who travelled to Durham from London while the most stringent lockdown measures were in place, after an online petition attracted more than a million signatures.

Dowden said: 'Dominic Cummings gave a very extensive explanation of his behaviour on Monday and answered all questions in relation to that.

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'The prime minister accepted that explanation and on that basis kept him in post and that remains the position.'

Piers Morgan tweeted that Van-Tam 'shows balls' by breaking ranks to give an answer.

'I respect & trust Prof Van-Tam more than anyone else who stands at that podium.

'Gives it to us straight in firm clear language we can understand, & he's his own man.

'He says UK's at a 'very dangerous moment' right now with the virus. I strongly suggest we heed his warning.'

Earlier one scientist said the 'Cummings affair' could impact trust in the authorities issuing the rules.

Professor Robert West, a participant in the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) which advises SAGE said: 'Trust in authority telling you to do things is very important when it comes to people adhering to those rules.

'This is going to become even more important as we move to a situation where it's not everybody having to do it, it's people who have drawn the short straw.

'So they will be seeing other people out there being able to engage in activities which they can't do for up to 14 days.

'People will feel really cheesed off about it and they must, absolutely must, feel that what they are doing they are doing it because it's the right thing to do, so anyone who was in their position would do that.

He said that 'when people see something like the Cummings affair... that's not a recipe for trust.'

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