Dominic Cummings row: The families who stayed away in lockdown

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Kathryn de Prudhoe

Boris Johnson said his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, “followed the instincts of every father and every parent” when he drove his wife and child to Country Durham during lockdown, rather than isolating at his London home.

But there has been anger from members of the public who did not travel to be closer to their families amidst the crisis.

Kathryn de Prudhoe, from Leeds, said both her and her husband had coronavirus in the first two weeks of lockdown.

But despite having to take care of their two children – aged five and eight-years-old – and her step-father falling ill, they stayed at home and “followed the guidelines”.

She told the BBC that her mother was “left on her own” when her stepfather went into hospital, leaving her isolating alone for 14 days.

And when she went to drop shopping at her mother’s door, Kathryn discovered her stepfather had taken a turn for the worse.

“We had to stay three metres apart when she got the news that life support was being turned off,” she said.

“I sat on a camping chair three metres apart from her. I didn’t hug her. We knew that was the right thing to do and we did what we had to do to keep ourselves and others safe.”

When Kathryn’s stepfather was laid to rest, only five people were allowed to attend the funeral.

“To now see what Dominic Cummings did, to make a completely new set of rules for himself when we have sacrificed so much, it’s completely disrespectful,” she said.

“To see somebody who’s made the rules flouting them so blatantly is really insulting to families like mine.”

‘Rest of the country has been staying away’

Alison Gee, from Guilford, has two grandchildren who she has not been able to see – or help – in the lockdown.

“My children have all had symptoms and are trying to work from home, with one child of 16 months and another of nine months,” she said.

“But I have not, as their grandmother, been allowed to help them out by looking after their grandchildren.”

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Alison Gee

Alison said the situation with Mr Cummings was “ridiculous”, adding: “The rest of the country has been staying away from relatives, even when fully fit or recovered from Covid-19 as advised, with grandparents not seeing their children or grandchildren – not even newborns.

“Yet this man who advises the government to implement these rules decided to travel with his family, who have symptoms.”

Alison said had she known it was “justifiable and reasonable” to do so, she would have travelled the five miles to look after her grandchildren when their parents were ill.

“That would have saved our family an enormous amount of anguish and heartbreak,” she said. “[It is] yet another ludicrous situation this government has brought about.”

‘Emotional cost’

Tony Bryson from Ayr said he was “livid” about the actions of Mr Cummings after he missed a family funeral due to the lockdown.

His uncle, Ryan Storrie, died 10 days after first showing symptoms of coronavirus.

“I couldn’t go to my uncle’s funeral because only a certain number of people could go,” said Tony.

“He was only 40. There would have been a lot of people there.

“Missing the funeral is something I’ll regret for a long time. It’s got an emotional cost.”

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Tony Bryson

Tony said Mr Cummings’ trip was “such a clear breach of the guidelines”.

He added: “There have been all these stories about people being stopped driving to places and this guy’s driven further than any of them.

“He gets away with it because he’s part of the government.”

He also worried it would “put the whole situation at risk”, saying: “If the guidelines don’t apply to him, why should they apply to anyone else?”

‘Everyone local was there for us’

Mick Carter from Surrey has been self-isolating due to having COPD and Asthma, so stuck to the rules by shielding at home.

But while he was staying indoors, his mother passed away in a care home just one mile from his own house.

“When the lockdown came into full effect I couldn’t see her at all,” he said. “We got the phone-call saying she was unwell and then a few hours later [she died].”

Mick’s mother did not have Covid-19, but because of social distancing, he still could not say goodbye, and he still hasn’t been able to see his 15-year-old daughter either.

“I have been watching every update,” he said. “I am on the vulnerable list, but all I wanted was food deliveries.

“Everyone local was there for us – my family is all over the place, so I couldn’t go to them.”

He said his family were “staunchly following the lockdown” because “this is what Brits do”.

“When you see [Mr Cummings’ actions] being defended by the PM, I feel cheated out of seeing my mum for the last time,” said Mick.

“I feel like Dominic Cummings has no respect for the living or the dead.”

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Tagged Cummings, Dominic, families, Lockdown, Row, stayed