By Grahame Anderson
Following a gruelling weekend for the Government Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to open from the start of June.
From the 15th of the month all other non essential retail will also be free to do business with the public subject to the required social distancing and Covid secure guidelines.
He also said: “We will set out our formal assessment of the five tests that we set for adjusting the lockdown later this week as part of the three-weekly review we are legally required to undertake by Thursday.
“But because of the progress we are making I can, with confidence, put the British people on notice of the changes we intend to introduce as we move to step two.”
He confirmed the decision had been reached because of the improving situation also enabling some schools to open their gates from June1.
Mr Johnson added: “We know the transmission of the virus is lower outdoors and that it is easier to follow Covid secure guidelines in open spaces.”
When questioned further on the Dominic Cummings controversy he told journalists at Monday’s coronavirus press conference: “To the best of my knowledge, Mr Cummings has just subjected himself to your interrogation for quite a long time now about these very detailed matters and has produced quite a substantial chunk of autobiography about what happened in the period from March 27 to April 14.
“I really feel that it would be wrong of me to try to comment further. I think people will have to make their minds up. I think he spoke at great length. To me, he came across as somebody who cared very much about his family and who was doing the best for his family.
“I think, as he said himself, reasonable people may disagree about some of the decisions that he took, but I don’t think reasonable people can disagree about what was going through his head at the time and the motivations for those decisions.”
Earlier on the hot bank holiday speaking in an unprecedented press conference in the Downing Street rose garden, Mr Cummings said he had not considered resigning over the controversy caused by his trip to Durham on 27 March.
He said: “I don’t regret what I did. I think reasonable people may well disagree about how I thought about what to do in the circumstances, but I think what I did was actually reasonable in these circumstances.”
“I don’t think I am so different and that is one rule for me and one rule for other people.”
Mr Cummings explained he made the decision to take his wife Mary and their four-year-old son to a house near to his parents’ home in County Durham after she rang him at Downing Street on 27 March to say she was feeling extremely ill and feared she had coronavirus.
This was after he discovered the PM and several other people he had been working closely with had contracted Covid-19 – he feared he too was infected.
Mr Cummings said he travelled to Durham over fears for the safety of his wife and young son, believing by taking them to an isolated property he was causing “the smallest risk for the smallest number of people”.
He denied making any further trips back to the North East after his return to Downing Street.
The row seems certain to go on, though the immediate pressure on Mr Cummings to resign seems to have lessened at least for now. More added pressure can be expected however, as the opposition and many other critics analyse the results of a media grilling lasting over an hour. The PM’s chief adviser didn’t think it necessary to make an apology, citing he had acted reasonably and legally.
But while thousands of people flocked to beaches around the UK on a sultry day, many of the UK’s retailers will at least be feeling the sun is also shining on them. The gradual lifting of lockdown continues which surely has to be good news at the end of this sometimes traumatic weekend, in terms of the fall out from the Westminster bubble.