The UK is set to become a restriction-free country when coronavirus rules are lifted on July 19. But people who come into contact with a positive case will still have to self-isolate until August 16, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The Government has faced criticism for this, with some fearing Brits will simply delete the NHS Test and Trace app so they cannot be ordered to quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who has the virus.
But the Prime Minister has defended the decision, saying he was ‘looking at all the data and trying to strike the right balance’.
When the Commons liaison committee asked why the Government will still be asking people to self-isolate after ‘Freedom Day’, Mr Johnson answered: ‘Because, I’m afraid this is a highly contagious disease and we have to do what we can to stop its spread’.
The Prime Minister was then asked if the Government had seen estimates on how many more people will be asked to quarantine during the extra 28 days between ‘Freedom Day’ and August 16.
He responded: ‘I haven’t seen any data on that and it obviously will depend on the numbers’.
But Mr Johnson’s own health secretary has predicted 100,000 new infections a day during that 28-period.
If each positive case has two close contacts each, that’s 200,000 people being told to self-isolate a day.
So in total, 5 million people could be forced to quarantine because of the delay.
The Government intends to replace the self-isolation system with a ‘testing regime’.
‘The difficulty with that is that you would effectively be allowing many more people to be vectors of disease than by continuing with our plan,’ Mr Johnson said.
The Prime Minister faced gruelling PMQs yesterday – on everything from his decision to lift restrictions on July 19 to whether he sacked Matt Hancock, universal credit and much more.
Mr Johnson confirmed he would be going ahead with his plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week.
Labour MPs, charities and some Tory MPs have warned against the decision for fears of damaging living standards, health and opportunities.
But Mr Johnson defended his position, saying: ‘I think that the best way forward is to get people into higher wage, higher skilled jobs.
‘That’s the ambition of this Government and if you ask me to make a choice between more welfare or better, higher paid jobs, I’m going to go for better, higher paid jobs.’
The Prime Minister will be under intense pressure over the next few months as he presses on with returning social freedoms to the UK despite cases, hospitalisations and deaths going up and the threat of the spreading Lambda variant first detected in Peru.
Many people think these threats are too great for the country to start living restriction-free – including Keir Starmer who spent yesterday’s PMQs slamming Mr Johnson for the country ‘heading into a summer of chaos and confusion’.
But others think the Government can no longer justify restricting people’s lives when 64% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated.
Despite having to juggle all this, Mr Johnson made sure to take last night off to watch England play Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final, wearing a personalised England shirt which read ‘Boris’ at the back.
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