The Prime Minister has urged Brits to self-isolate if contacted by Test and Trace – hours after trying to wangle his way out of a period of quarantine himself.
Boris Johnson has invoked the fury of tens of thousands of people stuck inside on what is looking to be the hottest day of the year so far by delivering one of the government’s sharpest u-turns yet.
This morning No 10 announced that Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak would carry on working in Downing Street while taking daily tests, having come into contact with coronavirus positive Health Minister Sajid Javid.
They planned to do so as part of a programme being trialled across 20 public and private sector organisations including Border Force and Network Rail as well as the Cabinet Office and No 10.
What appeared to be an exclusive scheme only for those with their hands on the levers of power struck many as deeply unfair.
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Sir Keir Starmer channelled the rage of many of those cooped up in their bedrooms this weekend when he said the Government was in “chaos”.
“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been busted yet again for thinking the rules that we are all following don’t apply to them,” the Labour leader.
“The way the Prime Minister conducts himself creates chaos, makes for bad government and has deadly consequences for the British public.
“Yet again the Conservatives fixed the rules to benefit themselves and only backtracked when they were found out. They robbed the bank, got caught and have now offered to give the money back.”
A few short hours after the initial announcement was made, Johnson and Sunak back-tracked, with the latter admitting that the sense that the rules were not being applied equally to everyone was damaging.
This afternoon the PM, who has decided to isolate in the publicly owned, vast country mansion Chequers, urged people not to follow his initial lead.
“We did look briefly at the idea of us taking part in this scheme which allows people to test daily, but I think it is far more important that everyone sticks to the same rules, and that’s why I’m going to be self-isolating until Monday July 26,” he said in a video.
The Chancellor and PM’s chaotic response to being contacted by Track and Trace comes as half a million Brits find themselves isolating.
Official figures this week showed a whopping 500,000 people were ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app in the past seven days.
The saga – dubbed the ‘pingdemic’ – has seen workplaces struggle with absent workers, caused chaos at short-staffed airports, and ruined holidays.
Because people who are alerted by the app are not legally required to isolate, many have expressed concerns that the actions of Johnson and Sunak could lead the public to stop complying.
With the majority of restrictions due to be lifted tomorrow – such as the face mask mandate and social distancing rules – already high coronavirus cases could well go through the roof.
Yesterday more than 54,000 new infections were recorded n the UK, the highest daily total in more than six months.
One scientist involved in advising the Government has warned that new cases could reach 200,000 a day before the current wave of the virus peaks.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has blasted the special exemptions and questioned how Brits who couldn’t get in the ‘VIP lane’ for the testing pilot would react.
“There will be parents across the country who have struggled this year when their children have been sent home because they were in a bubble and had to self-isolate,” he told Sky News.
“There will be workers across the country that have to isolate because they’ve been pinged, including in public services, including the NHS.
“For many of them, waking up this morning to hear that there is a special rule, an exclusive rule, for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, they will be saying that this looks like one rule for them and something else for the rest of us.”