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Live Reporting

Edited by Alex Therrien

All times stated are UK

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  1. Thanks for joining us

    Boris Johnson

    We're pausing the live page - thank you for joining us today. Here's a round-up of today's main developments:

    • Boris Johnson has backed his key adviser Dominic Cummings, amid a row over the aide’s travel during lockdown
    • In a tense press conference Johnson said Dominic Cummings acted "responsibly and legally" in travelling to Durham during lockdown but several Conservative MPs have called for the adviser to be removed from his post
    • Since the press conference, Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was "an insult to the sacrifices made by the British people" that Johnson had not taken action against Cummings and further Tory MPs have criticised the PM's stance
    • Away from the Cummings row, Johnson said parents and teachers should prepare for the phased reopening of schools in England to start on 1 June as planned
    • Elsewhere, China's foreign minister says politicians in the US are "jumping at every opportunity to slander" his country
    • Russia reported 153 more deaths over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily death toll there

    A number of us worked on this page to bring you the latest today including: Flora Drury, Robert Greenall, Deirdre Finnerty, David Walker, George Wright, Steve Sutcliffe, Jonathan Jurejko, Matthew Henry, Alex Therrien, Ella Wills, Doug Faulkner, Matt Cannon, Kate Whannel and George Bowden.

  2. Scientific advisers criticise PM's defence of Cummings

    Members of one of the government's scientific advisory panels have hit out at the prime minister over his defence of aide Dominic Cummings.

    Prof Stephen Reicher, Prof Susan Michie and Prof Robert West - who sit on the Sage behavioural science sub-committee SPI-B - have taken to social media following the Downing Street press conference.

    Reicher said the prime minister had "trashed all the advice we have given on how to build trust and secure adherence to [lockdown] measures", while his colleagues both tweeted their agreement.

    Michie said she feared that the public view of science would be diminished by "association with this government".

    Boris Johnson told the press briefing that Cummings had acted "responsibly and legally and with integrity" when he travelled to Durham to isolate with his family.

    View more on twitter
  3. Chile health system 'very close to the limit'


    Chile's healthcare system is "very close to the limit," the country's President, Sebastian Pinera, said on Sunday, as the number of confirmed cases in the country rapidly increased.

    The Ministry of Health has reported 3,709 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 69,102 while the death toll stands at 718.

    "We are very close to the limit because we have had a very large increase in the needs and demands for medical care, and for intensive care unit beds and ventilators," Pinera said.

    More than 1,000 people have been hospitalised with diseases associated with the coronavirus, according to the government.

  4. NY pro sports leagues can begin spring training, Cuomo says

    Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills signals at the line of scrimmage in the first half of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in January 2020
    Image caption: New York State's Buffalo Bills, seen here in January 2020 playing the Houston Texans, are now allowed to train in their home state

    New York Gov Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that professional sports leagues in the state can now begin spring training if they follow appropriate health guidelines.

    "I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena," he said.

    Cuomo held his daily press briefing at Jones Beach, about an hour's drive from New York City.

    Beaches in the state, though not in New York City, are now open to the public with social distancing measures being enforced.

    The new measures come as the state slowly inches forward with its reopening plans.

    The governor also said there had been 109 deaths with Covid-19 in the state in the last 24 hours.

    The new figure comes a day after he reported the daily death toll had dropped below 100 for the first time since late March amid a broader downward trend.

  5. UK government 'investigating unauthorised tweet'

    Shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his chief aide Dominic Cummings, a post was published on the UK Civil Service's official Twitter account which appeared to criticise the government.

    It said: "Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?"

    It was taken down shortly afterwards.

    The government has issued a response, saying it is "investigating the matter".

    View more on twitter
  6. Swim party leads to new Arkansas virus cases

    Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson says a recent high school swim party in the state led to several new coronavirus cases.

    The governor said he had received a text from a friend in northeast Arkansas who had information from hospitals and testing that there were positive cases resulting from the event.

    "A high school swim party that I'm sure everybody thought was harmless," he said during a media briefing on Saturday.

    "It's just an encouragement for us to be disciplined in our activities."

    The governor warned the state was going through a second peak of the virus after a 30-day dip in cases, though he said officials were "getting ahead of the spread."

    There were just over 5,000 cases of the virus in the state as of Saturday, with 163 new cases and two deaths in 24 hours.

    People swim in a pool during the opening day of a public open-air pool
    Image caption: Pools around the world have been slowly reopening
  7. UK PM put 'authority on the line' - Tory commentator

    Conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie

    Conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie says Boris Johnson "put his prime ministerial authority on the line" by backing his aide Dominic Cummings.

    Montgomerie, who runs the Conservative Home blog, told the BBC that Johnson's backing for Cummings "would burn a whole in the heart of public confidence in this government".

    He added that issue showed "complete hypocrisy of setting rules that you do not then follow".

    Shortly after today's briefing Montgomerie also tweeted that he was "really embarrassed to have ever backed Boris Johnson for high office".

  8. Teaching unions react to prime minister's schools announcement

    A sign in a primary school reminding pupils of 2m social distancing rules

    Among all the reaction to the prime minister standing by Dominic Cummings you would be forgiven for forgetting that Boris Johnson also announced that schools in England are on course to reopen on 1 June.

    Here are the main points:

    • Primary schools will reopen to pupils from reception, year one and year six pupils from 1 June
    • On 15 June secondary schools will be open to pupils in year 10 and year 12, with around a quarter of students in school at one time
    • The prime minister recognised some schools would not be ready to reopen on 1 June and said that the government would follow a phased and cautious approach

    Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the move but said the government had "not done a good job in building confidence in its plans" - leaving primary schools with little time to implement safety protocols.

    The National Education Union has said it is not convinced it is safe for children to return to school. Joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said it would not be right for primary schools to reopen on 1 June and called for the government to engage in "meaningful conversation" with the union.

    Paul Whiteman, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "We will take the prime minister at his word that schools will be allowed to react to their own local situations and will not be forced into opening or penalised if proceeding with appropriate caution."

  9. What else is happening in Europe?

    • Russia reported 153 more deaths over the previous 24 hours, the epidemic's highest daily toll there. It raises the total fatalities to 3,541
    • German authorities are trying to trace everyone who attended a church service in Frankfurt this month after more than 107 people tested positive for the coronavirus
    • The French government does not want its citizens to travel abroad this summer and recommends they take their holidays in France, says Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne
    • People living in Spain's biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are eagerly anticipating the opening of parks, museums, churches and outdoor seating at bars this week
    Restaurant workers use tape measures to ensure tables are a safe distance apart in Madrid's famous Plaza Mayor
    Image caption: Restaurant workers use tape measures to ensure tables are a safe distance apart in Madrid's famous Plaza Mayor
  10. Watch: Dominic Cummings leaves No 10

    Dominic Cummings left Downing Street a short time ago after being inside No 10 - where he held talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson - for several hours.

    Watch the moment Cummings left in the video below...

    Video content

    Video caption: Cummings leaves Downing Street after Boris Johnson backs him on lockdown travel
  11. Tory MP 'unconvinced' by PM's defence of Cummings

    Conservative MP David Warburton has tweeted: "As much as I despise any baying pitchfork-led trials by social media, I'm unconvinced by the PM's defence of Cummings.

    "We've all been tasked with tempering our parental, and other, instincts by strictly adhering to govt guidance."

    During today's press conference the prime minister said he believed Dominic Cummings had "followed the instincts of every father and parent and I do not mark him down for that".

  12. What's happening in Asia?

    Worshippers mark Eid al-Fitr in Indonesia
    Image caption: Indonesian Muslims mark Eid al-Fitr in West Java

    Away from the Dominic Cummings story for a moment, here's a round-up of current events in Asia.

    • China's foreign minister has accused the US of spreading "conspiracies and lies" about the coronavirus, ratcheting up tensions between the two nations.
    • He said politicians are "jumping at any opportunity to attack and slander China”
    • Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic began, conducted well over 1 million nucleic acid tests on Saturday. It also conducted 1.4 million the day before
    • Millions across the Muslim world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr amid the pandemic. Indonesia and Thailand held Eid prayers on Sunday
    • Sri Lanka's government says it will ease lockdown measures from Tuesday. The capital, Colombo, and Gampaha district, have been under a 24-hour curfew since March
  13. Watch: Did the PM approve Cummings' trip?

    Video content

    Video caption: PM questioned over Dominic Cummings' travel to Barnard Castle
  14. Tory MP: PM's judgement 'flawed'

    Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has been talking to BBC Radio 5 Live.

    He accused the prime minister of taking up "a quite extraordinary position", adding: "I do think that judgement is flawed."

    "The PM has missed an opportunity to bring this chapter to an end.

    "You cannot have credibility in my view if you say one thing and then do something completely different.

    "The idea that a man of Mr Cummings' alleged capability could not organise childcare for his family in London beggars belief."

    Asked if the issue had damaged the PM, he replied "personally, it could be very damaging indeed".

    He later told BBC News: "Speaking as a seaside MP who has been telling people not to come here, for me to get that message across is well nigh impossible."

  15. Police comment after they were seen knocking at Cummings' door


    Earlier this afternoon officers were seen knocking at Dominic Cumming's door.

    In a statement the police have said they were called to an address in Islington following reports that "a large crowd of people were outside the address.

    "The call was not treated as an emergency."The officers knocked on the door of the property. There was no reply."Media present were reminded of social distancing guidance - a number of members of the public were asked to move on, without issue."No other action was taken by police. The caller was advised that police had attended the location."

  16. No word from Cummings as he leaves Downing Street

    There was no word from Dominic Cummings as he left Downing Street and got into his car, the BBC's political correspondent Nick Eardley said.

  17. BreakingAn insult to sacrifices by British people - Labour's Starmer

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has responded to Boris Johnson's press conference - his first comments on the allegations around Dominic Cummings.

    He says it is "an insult to sacrifices made by the British people" that Johnson has not taken action against Cummings.

    Starmer says the Cabinet Secretary must launch an urgent inquiry.

    View more on twitter
  18. Did Cummings visit Barnard Castle?

    Boris Johnson

    One of the unanswered questions following Boris Johnson's press conference remains whether, in April, Dominic Cummings made a trip to Barnard Castle, 30 miles away from where he was supposed to be self-isolating in Durham.

    That was part of the second allegations made by the the Sunday Mirror and Observer newspapers today.

    Johnson was asked directly by the BBC's Iain Watson whether that allegation was true, and he did not seem to give a clear answer.

    He said: "What I can tell you is when you look at guidance and the particular childcare needs faced at the time it was reasonable to self-isolate for 14 days or more where he did. That was sensible and defensible and I understand it.

    "As for all of the other allegations, I have looked at them carefully and I am content that at all times throughout his period of isolation he behaved reasonably and correctly and with a view to defeating the virus."

  19. 'Sharp distinction' between Cummings and Scottish adviser

    Asked by Scott Macnab of the Scotsman about whether the public will now not obey lockdown measures following Dominic Cummings' actions, the PM said his aide had gone into isolation for 14 days or more when he had symptoms, "which is what you have got to do".

    He said it was not comparable to the example of Dr Catherine Catherine Calderwood, the former chief medical officer for Scotland, who resigned after making journeys to her second home.

    He said: "The sharp distinction is unlike the lady you mention, Mr Cummings actually went into lockdown because he had to, went into self-isolation for 14 days or more, and that is what you have got to do. The circumstances of that isolation were determined by their childcare needs."

  20. Self-isolation advice has 'in no way changed' - Johnson

    Charlie Cooper of Politico asks if rules have changed to allow anyone with symptoms who has concerns about childcare to travel to another home.

    Johnson says the government's advice remains unchanged.

    "That is, that if you have symptoms then you should self-isolate for 14 days - and that's what Mr Cummings and his family did."

    The PM asks for the next question. But the reporter returns asking for further clarification.

    The advice makes it "absolutely clear" that childcare has to be "taken into account", Johnson says.

    He says the Cummings family may have needed childcare help if they were both taken ill, adding "as it happened that was not necessary".

    "I think it was a real risk and I think it was responsible of Dominic Cummings to see the risk to his family... and to take steps to avert it.

    "That in no way changes the guidance or the advice", he adds.