Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings drives away from his home in London on Saturday, May 23, 2020, after allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March.

Number 10 Downing Street special advisor Dominic Cummings drives away from his home in London on Saturday, May 23, 2020, after allegations he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country in March. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

LONDON - Pressure is mounting on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sack his chief adviser, after reports emerged late Friday that he had breached the country's coronavirus travel restrictions.

The Guardian and the Mirror newspapers reported that Dominic Cummings had traveled from London to his parents' home in County Durham while he and his wife had coronavirus symptoms.

Only a week ago the government had put strict measures in place on freedom of movement to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Travel is only allowed for emergency reasons, and people with virus symptoms are required to self-isolate for seven days.

But, as of Saturday, the prime minister was standing by his adviser.

"I can tell you the PM provides Mr. Cummings with his full support," said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps during a Saturday news briefing.

Previously, Downing Street had said that Cummings' actions were "in line with coronavirus guidelines."

However, when asked if Cummings' actions undermined the government's instructions for people to stay at home, deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries refused to comment on the specifics.

Speaking generally, she said: "It's absolutely clear that public health guidance is, if you're symptomatic you stay at home, take yourself out of society as quickly as you can with your family and stay there, unless there is extreme risk to life."

Cummings has argued that the trip was necessary because, with both him and his wife either sick or likely to get sick, they had to get near to other relatives so there would be someone available to care for their 4-year-old son.

He told reporters on Saturday that he had acted "reasonably and legally" and said he didn't really care how the incident looked in the press.

"It's a question of doing the right thing. It's not about what you guys think," he told reporters.

Police confirmed that officers had visited the County Durham property after allegations that Cummings had traveled 250 miles from his home amid the lockdown, according to Britain's Press Association (PA) news agency.

The Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford took to Twitter on Friday evening calling for Cummings' resignation.

"Following the news that Dominic Cummings travelled from London to Durham during lockdown and his behaviour was investigated by the Police, his position is completely untenable - he must resign or be sacked," he wrote.

Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, also tweeted that "if Dominic Cummings has broken the lockdown guidelines he will have to resign. It's as simple as that."

Tulip Siddiq, the vice chair of the Labour party, said of the reports: "The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings. Number 10 needs to provide a very swift explanation for his actions," according to the Guardian.

However, a host of other government officials, including Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak have also sprung to Cummings' defense, arguing that providing care for his family was the most sensible course of action.

The British government has been the target of criticism for weeks as the country's death toll surpasses 36,000, higher than any other country in Europe.

At the beginning of May, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, resigned from his government advisory role after admitting he had breached the lockdown rules.

Top medical adviser to the Scottish government Catherine Calderwood also stood down earlier in the month after admitting to having traveled to a second home in a rural area of Scotland's east coast. The act contradicted her own advice to Scots to remain in their primary residence.

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