Boris Johnson WILL self-isolate in quick U-turn after fury at using 'VIP' pilot scheme to dodge ping over Javid's Covid

BORIS Johnson and Rishi Sunak WILL self-isolate in a quick U-turn as they were 'pinged' after coming into contact with Covid-positive Sajid Javid.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor initially said they WOULDN'T be isolating because they are participating in a 'VIP' daily contact testing pilot – but the decision has now been reversed.


 

In a major U-turn this morning after a public outcry, Boris suddenly said he would stay at Chequers and isolate – just like every Brit who has been 'pinged' by the NHS app.

The Health Secretary yesterday revealed he had returned a positive lateral flow and PCR test for the bug – but his symptoms are "mild" as he has been double-vaccinated.

Officials were scrambling to work out precisely who had been in close contact with Mr Javid in the past few days.

The Health Secretary was seen leaving Downing Street yesterday before the announcement – fuelling speculation that the PM and other cabinet ministers would be 'pinged.'

And as expected, Mr Javid's list included Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak – who have now been contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

In a dramatic U-turn, No10 said: "The Prime Minister has been contacted by NHS Test and Trace to say he is a contact of someone with Covid.

“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.”

Rishi Sunak tweeted after the fury this morning: "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."

The PM and Chancellor said they would be skipping self-isolation – as the ‘pilot’ scheme allows them to continue working from Downing Street while taking daily Covid tests. 

A No.10 Spokesperson said this morning: "The Prime Minister and Chancellor have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid.

DOWNPING ST

“They will be participating in the daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street. 

“They will be conducting only essential government business during this period.”

The pilot covers a variety of selected organisations – including Downing Street and 20 other firms, including Network Rail, TFL, Heathrow and Border Force.

This is the same testing scheme that allowed Cabinet minister Michael Gove to skip self-isolation after returning from the Champions League final in Portugal.

But after intense fury, No10 revealed that the PM and Chancellor would in fact be isolating despite being in the testing scheme.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner this morning criticised the fact that the PM and Chancellor won't self-isolate despite being 'pinged.'

She wrote on Twitter: "Sorry for the unparliamentary language but this just takes the p***.

"Not following the rules that they created and which they expect my constituents to follow.

It comes as…

  • Boris ‘cancels Churchillian Freedom Day launch’
  • Britain’s third wave to peak in August with ‘challenging weeks ahead’, warns No 10 as cases surge
  • Parents pulling their kids out of school early to avoid Pingdemic and having to cancel summer holiday
  • Boris Johnson meets target of offering all adults a Covid vaccine before Freedom Day

"This Government treats the public with contempt and think they are above the law and that the rules don't apply to them."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey also condemned the way Boris Johnson has been able to escape isolation.

In a statement, Sir Ed said: "It is one rule for them and another rule for everyone else.

"How about the school teachers, transport workers and health workers getting a chance to be part of this test pilot or is it only for the privileged few?

"People have stuck to the rules and done the right thing, Boris Johnson is taking them for granted."

ISOLATION 'HYPOCRISY'

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also said this morning: "If it is a pilot, why can't employers apply for their workforce to be part of this pilot, why can't schools apply to be part of this pilot test?

"This is at a time when we need to maintain confidence in the isolation policies, because isolation, taking yourself away from society if you've been in contact with someone who's got the virus, is one of the key ways we break transmission and, of course, we know infections are rising."

This comes amid Britain's 'Pingdemic' – which has brought services to their knees with staff having to isolate after receiving a notification from the NHS.

The NHS Test & Trace app has ordered a record 520,194 to stay home in just a week, a 46 per cent rise on the previous seven days.

This means a staggering two million Brits are now thought to be stuck at home – with a further four million expected to be pinged as Freedom Day beckons.

Testing labs have been swamped as vast numbers are advised to get checked, meaning vital PCR tests are not available in some areas.

Just yesterday, it was announced that a tube line was suspended and two others affected after the "Pingdemic" cut staff numbers.

Train services are being affected by a staff shortage triggered when workers were told to self-isolate.

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The Metropolitan Line was not running after control room staff were alerted yesterday morning.

The 'Pingdemic' has also crippled pubs, factories, hospitals and airports with needless staff isolations.

Worried energy sector sources said the scale of the crisis could impact vital infrastructure that keeps the lights on.

The problem has spilt over to showbiz.

Filming of the second series of steamy bonkbuster Bridgerton ground to a halt after a member of the production team tested positive for Covid.

The entire cast and crew have now been tested at Wrotham Hall, an 18th century pile in Hertfordshire.

And anyone who came into contact with the infected person has gone into isolation.

Bosses of the Netflix drama are now concerned that the same fate may hit its other major production, The Crown, which is about to start filming at various locations.

TRACKED AND TRACED

The shooting of Tom Cruise’s new Mission Impossible movie has also been halted for a second time after a Covid outbreak among the crew working on scenes in Longcross Studios at Chertsey, Surrey.

Economic think tank the Adam Smith Institute predicted the number of isolating Brits could soar to 2.6 million next week, including nearly one million school children.

Deputy director Matthew Kilcoyne said: “Many people are deleting the app because they know it is too sensitive.

“This is a very rational move when so many are vaccinated and there are effective treatments to protect the vulnerable.

“One-third of people will face financial hardship if they are forced to isolate. They must balance a very real risk of lost income against a very low potential risk from the virus.

“This is a worst-of-all-worlds nightmare that could cripple the economy.

“Orders are going unfulfilled due to staff shortages, forcing people and business to borrow more money in an uncertain climate. The app is a short-sighted false economy, right when we need it least.”

'PINGDEMIC' CRISIS

And parents are already pulling their kids out of school early to avoid having to cancel summer holidays, it was revealed this morning.

Youngsters are being kept at home by their worried parents to avoid the risk of being 'pinged' or told to self-isolate ahead of the summer holidays, it's been revealed.

Despite many months of sudden isolations and disrupted learning, parents are unwilling to cancel holidays just because their child was in the same ‘bubble’ as another pupil who had tested positive.

Of the 830,000 kids who were at home last week, 750,000 – almost a tenth of all schoolchildren – were isolating after coming into contact with a Covid case. 

James Bowen, director of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "We are picking up on reports of parents saying they will keep their child off school to avoid being asked to self-isolate during the school holidays."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was "concerned" about term ending prematurely for some pupils.

He added: "We are not casting blame on parents, because we understand the importance of holidays after such a torrid year.

"But we would encourage attendance where children are not ill or self-isolating."


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