Confusing government messages risks further spread of the virus to Cornwall

By Saksha Menezes |

Today, Florence MacDonald has issued an open letter to MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, George Eustice about the actions of Dominic Cummings. 

In the letter, she asks him if he thinks ‘it was right for Dominic Cummings to visit County Durham from London at the height of coronavirus lockdown’? Pointing to messages shared by Eustice, reaffirming the Government’s message, during Cummings’ visit in County Durham, she concludes that his actions worked against the efforts of the government, whilst ‘others have made huge sacrifices by following the government’s advice.’ She then asks George Eustice to support her ‘call for Cummings to be immediately sacked by the Prime Minister.’

Tim Green/Flickr

Dominic Cummings’ name has been plastered all over the media over recent days, many outraged at his discretions and calling for his dismissal. Here is a summary if you are not up to date with the details. 

Dominic Cummings is Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, appointed last year but before that, he served as campaign director of Vote Leave upon the creation of the organisation in October 2015. Having been credited with creating the Vote Leave slogan ‘Take back control’ and being the lead strategist of the campaign, he is commonly regarded as one of the masterminds of the movement. 

A news story broke on the 22nd of May that Cummings had driven up to Durham from London, whilst his wife was showing COVID-19 symptoms, to ensure that if both himself and his wife fell ill, they would be near his parents and family members so there would be someone to look after his child. 

His 17 year old niece had volunteered her childcare support whilst he and his wife were ill. This offer, Cummings confirmed, meant he and his wife ‘did not think’ about engaging in support closer to home. He confirms that any interactions with his elderly parents, sister and her family, were ‘shouted across the farm’. 

After a few days, when he was considering returning to work in London, he claims that he needed to drive about 30 minutes to a beauty spot to test his eyesight. Apparently, this was to make sure it was safe to drive back to London, coincidentally on his wife’s birthday, with both his wife and his 4-year old child in the car.

He was also backed by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who said he believed Cummings had ‘no alternative’ but to travel from London to the North East for childcare ‘when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus’. 

Some councillors and political figures, particularly Jayne Kirkham who serves as Labour councillor for Falmouth Smithick, have expressed that a confusing national message and Mr Cummings’ actions will have an impact on the ‘Come Back Later’ message in Cornwall.

Given the relatively low number of coronavirus cases, standing at 135 per 100,000, many express concern that visitors to Cornwall might now increase as it is perceived as a safer place to be, risking the spread of the virus.

For instance, Cherilyn Mackrory issued a messaged to overnight campers in Cornwall on May 21st, saying that ‘this irresponsible and dangerous behaviour risks health and wellbeing of our coastal communities w/ a second peak of COVID-19.’

The Independent reported, on May 22nd, that caravan tourists have broken the rules by travelling to Cornwall and staying the night. Given that Cornwall is a UK tourist hotspot, there are concerns that visitors could risk spreading the virus.

Cornwall Live has also reported, on May 22nd, that there are worries that a ‘visitor tsunami’ could bring COVID-19 to Cornwall. Twitter user, @mikesmallcombe1, expressed frustration, saying ‘How hard can it be to stay out of the water and off the beaches just a little longer?’

The views expressed in this publication are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Falmouth University, the University of Exeter or Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union