Michael Staines
Michael Staines

11.41 18 Jul 2021


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The British Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer will now fully self-isolate after a U-turn from Downing Street.

The pair are close contacts of the UK Health Minister Sajid Javid who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Downing Street originally said Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak would take part in a pilot scheme allowing them to continue working without self-isolating.

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The scheme would have seen them getting tested daily and working only on essential Government business.

Close contact

Following widespread criticism this morning however, that plan has now been dropped.

“The prime minister has been contacted by NHS Test and Trace to say he is a contact of someone with COVID," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“He was at Chequers when contacted by Test and Trace and will remain there to isolate. He will not be taking part in the testing pilot.

“He will continue to conduct meetings with ministers remotely. The chancellor has also been contacted and will also isolate as required and will not be taking part in the pilot.”

Freedom Day

It means Mr Johnson will be self-isolation on so-called ‘Freedom Day’ tomorrow – when most restrictions end in England.

In a Tweet, Mr Sunak said: “Whilst the test and trace pilot is fairly restrictive, allowing only essential government business, I recognise that even the sense that the rules aren't the same for everyone is wrong.

“To that end, I'll be self-isolating as normal and not taking part in the pilot.”

"Chaos"

The Labour Leader Keir Starmer said the U-turn highlighted the “chaos” in the British Government.

“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been busted yet again for thinking the rules that we are all following don't apply to them,” he said.

“The public have done so much to stick to the rules. At a time when we need to maintain confidence in self-isolation, parents, workers and businesses will be wondering what on earth is going on in Downing Street.

“The way the prime minister conducts himself creates chaos, makes for bad government and has deadly consequences for the British public.”

Pilot scheme

There are currently 20 organisations in both the private and public sector - including Downing Street - taking part in the workplace pilot testing scheme that would have exempted Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak.

The scheme allows people out of self-isolation to continue working every day they pass a lateral flow test.

The organisations taking part include Network Rail, Transport for London, Heathrow Airport and the UK Border Force.

It's running in conjunction with a general daily contact testing study, open to anyone identified as a close contact of a positive case.


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