Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to speak at a press conference at 5pm today.
But he will do it from his Buckinghamshire countryside residence, Chequers, where he is in isolation after Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, scientists including Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, will be taking part in the same press conference from Downing Street.
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Most Covid restrictions come to an end today, called “Freedom Day” by some people, but the Prime Minister has urged everyone to continue being cautious.
Issues the Prime Minister is likely to talk about include:
- The need to continue taking precautions to control the spread of Coronavirus, even though most laws enforcing lockdown are no longer in effect
- The controversy over the announcement over the weekend that Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak would not self-isolate, despite being told by the “test and trace” programme that they had been in contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has the virus. There was a swift U-turn after the announcement provoked widespread criticism
- The decision to order fully-vaccinated travellers arriving from France to quarantine
- Fears that the number of people ordered to self-isolate is causing a staff shortage, including in the NHS.
Mr Johnson is spending England’s so-called “Freedom Day”, with most legal restrictions now abolished, self-isolating at his official country residence at Chequers following a U-turn over an initial attempt to use an opt-out testing regime.
Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who were both “pinged” by NHS Test and Trace after coming into contact with Health Secretary Mr Javid, who subsequently tested positive for the virus – initially tried to get round the requirement to quarantine by saying they would join a daily workplace testing programme being trialled by the Cabinet Office and No 10.
However, they were forced into a hasty reversal on Sunday amid widespread public anger at their “special treatment” while tens of thousands of people were being forced to miss work or school and stay home.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Government “don’t get every decision right” and admitted the Prime Minister had to rethink his initial decision.
Asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain whether an error had been made in announcing that the Cabinet ministers would take part in the pilot, Mr Zahawi said: “Of course, and as soon as the Prime Minister realised that this would be wrong, he came out very clearly and said ‘We will self-isolate, that’s the right thing to do’.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Prime Minister had “done the right thing” by self-isolating and denied that it had been “damaging” for the Downing Street incumbent to have considered taking part in the testing scheme, which is not widely available to the public.
Mr Johnson will self-isolate until July 26, which will include the final Prime Minister’s Questions before the Commons goes into recess, and the two-year anniversary of him entering No 10, which is on Saturday.
The Prime Minister is having to bunker down on Monday while having given those in England some of their freedoms back following more than a year of restrictions.
Face masks are no longer mandatory in shops and on public transport, limits on gathering have gone and the work-from-home guidance has ended.
Nightclubs – with people queuing across the country to hit the dance floors at one minute past midnight – theatres and restaurants can fully reopen while pubs are no longer restricted to table service only.
The UK Government’s decision to ease restrictions on social distancing and mask wearing, and replace it with guidance, comes as the country has already hit 50,000 Covid-19 cases a day.
Mr Zahawi said he was “confident” the Government was “doing the right thing” in lifting the measures but urged people to “respect” businesses and public transport providers insisting on mask wearing continuing.
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This post originally posted here United Kingdom News