Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson over refusal to sack Cummings; Prime Minister to reopen thousands of shops


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on Monday, faced continuing pressure after refusing to fire his top aide, Dominic Cummings, over allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
No fewer than 15 lawmakers from Johnson’s Conservatives have joined calls by the opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, as well as health officials and bishops from the Church of England for Cummings, to resign or be fired.
Cummings reportedly broke lockdown travel restrictions more than once.
He travelled 430 kilometres from London to his parents’ home in County Durham at the end of March while he had coronavirus symptoms, as well as no less than twice in mid-April.
The Press Association (PA) news agency reported that Johnson was later scheduled to host a cabinet meeting on easing of virus restrictions, including proposals to reopen some non-essential businesses.
On Sunday, the prime minister said at a news conference that he had come to the conclusion that Cummings had “followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that.”
However, critics said Cummings alleged behaviour risked undermining the government’s policy.
“If you give the impression there’s one rule for them and one rule for us, you fatally undermine that sense of ‘we’re all in this together’,” Stephen Reicher, a member of the government’s advisory group on behavioural science, told broadcaster ITV.
Conservative lawmaker Paul Maynard said Cummings behaviour was “indefensible,” while Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, tweeted: “The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs?”
Meanwhile, Johnson said Britain would reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres next month.
Johnson also set out a timetable for businesses as part of moves to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
He told a news conference that from June 1, outdoor markets and care showrooms could be reopened as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines.
All other non-essential retail could reopen from June 15 if the government’s tests are met.
“There are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country,’’ Johnson said.


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