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The ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause was designed for vulnerable people in fear for their life

During Dominic Cummings’ bolshy defence of his cross-country tour to Durham, breaking lockdown regulations, he centred on his “exceptional” need for childcare. This led him to drive 260 miles to his parents’ farm after his wife started to feel ill.

In cobbling together this narrative during yesterday’s lengthy press conference, the prime minister’s senior adviser seemed to rely on a loophole in the government’s quarantine laws. After the guidelines were imposed in March to counteract the Covid-19 outbreak, a clause was subsequently added to provide protective measures for women and children stuck in domestic abuse households: the lockdown could be broken in these exceptional circumstances, where vulnerable people were in danger. Cummings, the chief strategist in the government that devised this rule, surely knew that safeguarding women and children from abuse and neglect was the intention.

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