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Fury at PM's threat to make nightclubbers prove they are double-jabbed

‘This is compulsory vaccination’: Fury at PM’s threat to make anyone going to a nightclub prove they are double-jabbed – even though it does NOT prove you don’t have the virus

  • Furious hospitality chiefs slammed Boris Johnson’s plans to make vaccine passports compulsory in clubs 
  • Giving briefing from isolation in Chequers the PM warned restrictions only way to open the rest of society
  • Night-time economy bosses reacted angrily to plans, calling move ‘yet another chaotic U-turn’ and ‘bad idea’   
  • Ministers and Downing Street previously dismissed prospect of rolling out vaccination passports post-July 19 

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said the move was ‘completely unnecessary’ given the high rates of vaccine take-up across the UK

Boris Johnson has been accused of imposing ‘compulsory vaccination’ after he threatened to make anyone going to a nightclub prove they are double-jabbed.

The PM is facing a backlash from Tories and civil liberties campaigners after delivering an ultimatum to young people at a press briefing last night. 

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said the move was ‘completely unnecessary’ given the high rates of vaccine take-up across the UK. 

And Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, who chaired the ethics advisory board for NHSx on its contact tracing app, warned that ministers need to be wary about ‘where incentive meets coercion’. Critics also pointed out that being vaccinated is not a guarantee people do not have coronavirus, with around 40 per cent of hospital cases having been jabbed.

Mr Johnson – who is self-isolating at Chequers after he was ‘pinged’ – told the press conference last night that proof of double-vaccination will be a ‘condition of entry’ at clubs.

Speaking just hours after the venues were allowed to reopen for the first time in 16 months on ‘Freedom Day’, Mr Johnson declined to rule out extending the scheme to other hospitality venues, including pubs. 

It represents a major U-turn, after Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Nadhim Zahawi previously denied there were plans to introduce so-called ‘Covid status certification’. 

Night-time economy bosses have reacted angrily to the plans, calling the move ‘yet another chaotic U-turn’ and a ‘bad idea’, with eight in 10 nightclubs warning they do not want to implement vaccine passports amid concerns the requirement will damage their trade even further.

Former chief whip Mark Harper, who chairs the Covid Recovery Group of Tory lockdown-sceptics, criticised the plans as ‘effectively moving to compulsory vaccination’.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee, questioned why the Government was delaying the plans until the autumn.

And Labour’s shadow health minister Justin Madders said: ‘How can it be safe to go to nightclubs now, with no protective measures, if in September it will require double jab status? It makes no sense.

‘This proposal is more confusion and incompetence from the heart of Government at the expense of public health. They need to get a grip.’  

Boris Johnson laid down a warning to younger generations, making clear that they will need to prove they have been vaccinated to enter nightclubs and other venues from September. Pictured: Clubbers return to Astoria in Portsmouth


Boris Johnson urged the public to keep isolating when ‘pinged’ and warned young people that they face being blocked from partying if they do not get jabs tonight as he took a coronavirus press briefing from his own house arrest at Chequers

Infections are currently running at about 45,000 a day (yellow line shows cases increasing since May) but deaths are still flat at about 40 a day (pink line shows fatalities in the third wave). For comparison, the last time cases hit this level when the second wave began to spiral out of control (orange line) there were more than 600 daily deaths

The UK’s daily Covid cases rose by just 16 per cent yesterday, as an expert hailed the small rise as a ‘remarkably good’ sign that the outbreak may already be starting to slow.

The Department of Health’s usual update showed there were 39,950 infections across the country in the past 24 hours, up on the 34,471 recorded last Monday.

There were also another 19 Covid deaths registered, which was more than triple the six victims reported a week ago but still 16 times lower than at the same point in previous waves.

Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline that gloomy warnings of 200,000-plus daily cases and tens of thousands more deaths at the peak this autumn seemed ‘a bit over the top’. 

He suggested infections could actually start to drop on Thursday, if England’s Covid crisis plays out in the same way Scotland’s did following the surge of cases during Euro 2020.

Nationally, there are currently 45,000 new infections every day across Britain, on average, and the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) expects this to reach at least 100,000 in August or September.

‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson — whose frightening modelling of the first wave spooked ministers into the initial shutdown — has warned that daily cases could rise to 200,000 this autumn, which would dwarf the 68,000 at the height of the second wave in January.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said last night: ‘The announcement from the Prime Minister that Covid passports will be made mandatory for night clubs in September comes after his Health Secretary said only one week ago that they would not be compulsory. What an absolute shambles.

‘Leaving aside the fact that this is yet another chaotic U-turn that will leave night clubs who have been planning for reopening for months having to make more changes to the way they operate – this is still a bad idea.

‘Eighty per cent of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.

‘The Government’s own report into vaccine passports found they were more trouble than they’re worth – so what could possibly explain the about turn, just as millions across the UK experience their first taste of a night out in a year and a half?’

Peter Marks, CEO of nightclub owner REKOM UK, said clubs are ‘no more than a political football’ and warned: ‘Mandatory Covid passports may make sense one day once the entire adult population has been offered vaccines, but does Government really think this threat will entice the ‘vaccine wary’ to take the vaccine?’ 

Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: ‘The whole industry has been taken by surprise by this measure. I am deeply concerned by the discriminatory nature for those who either can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons or age, or who do not want to.’

Mr Johnson made the shock announcement on the day that England’s nightclubs were allowed to open for the first time since March 2020.

He also strongly suggested that vaccination passports could be extended in future, adding: ‘Some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination.’  

After the press conference, UKHospitality chief Kate Nicholls tweeted: ‘Hugely disappointing to hear PM say the govt will legislate for vaccine passports for large events and nightclubs from September – just last week he said it was voluntary and govt would work with the industry to determine how best may be used. No discussion but policy changes’.  

Appearing on Sky News this morning, Business Minister Paul Scully denied that the scheme is a ‘bribe’ to young people to get their jabs but refused to rule out plans to extend it to other large and crowded venues. He also said passports for nightclubs were not being introduced until September in order to get the ‘detail’ right and ‘get through parliamentary scrutiny’. 

The Government appears likely to face opposition in Parliament over the proposals, with Mark Harper, the Tory former chief whip who chairs the Covid Recovery Group of Tory lockdown-sceptics, criticising the plans as ‘effectively moving to compulsory vaccination’.   

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, who chaired the ethics advisory board for NHSx on its contact tracing app, told Times Radio he was concerned about the impact such a requirements would have on personal freedoms. He said: ‘We should have a debate about where incentive reaches coercion. Maybe this is more like hanging a carrot out if someone would like to go to a nightclub then they need to get vaccinated.

‘But it raises the question about the impact on people who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, or ethical reasons, or people who just don’t want to get vaccinated.’  

The U-turn came after Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in January ‘no one will be required to have a vaccine passport’. Just last week, ministers said that, while they encouraged clubs and crowded venues to require revellers to ask for a Covid pass, it would not be compulsory.  

Sir Jonathan said he believed No 10’s decision not to allow unvaccinated people to be able to get into venues by providing evidence of a negative Covid-19 test was more about ‘providing an incentive to get vaccinated rather than public safety’.

‘The best way to get people to take the vaccine is to communicate that it’s safe,’ he added.

Lord Sumption told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: ‘Getting vaccinated is a choice that people have.

‘I don’t think one should compel them to do it but I think, like most choices in life, you have to accept that they have ups and downs in the way of consequences.

‘I don’t think vaccine passports imposed by the state are a good idea now.

‘Earlier this year when fewer people had been vaccinated I thought that there was something to be said for allowing those who had been to prove the fact and return to normal life.

‘But at the moment, with 70 per cent having had both jabs, including all vulnerable groups, I think it is completely unnecessary.’

Mr Scully denied the scheme was a bribe to young people to get their coronavirus vaccinations. Asked whether he was comfortable with the Tory Party implementing something similar to an ID card, he said: ‘I’m not comfortable that Government is mandating anything frankly, I’m a very libertarian Conservative, I want to be able to back off, that’s why yesterday was an opportunity for Government to back off from so many different things and let people live their lives.

‘But what we have to do is make sure that people will also live their lives safely, the NHS can function safely, and these are the challenges that we still have to do. So it’s incredibly frustrating, it’s incredibly complicated to work through the detail, but that’s the challenge we have.’ 

Club managers have hit out at the Government’s plans, which have been branded a ‘hammerblow’ to the devastated sector. 

REKOM UK chief Mr Marks said: ‘To say we are disappointed by this Government’s U-turn is an understatement. Jonathan Van Tam’s talk of his party in his garden shed shows how little this government and their scientists understand the modern club. 

‘Nightclubs have the best air ventilation systems in hospitality, retail and most other settings – with air changes on average every five minutes. Who else does that? We can sanitise and clean just like any other venue and there is no difference between a club and most pubs at midnight. It should be down to individual risk assessments in line with the specialist scientific advice we have received.

‘We are no more than a political football. Mandatory Covid passports may make sense one day once the entire adult population has been offered vaccines, but does government really think this threat will entice the ‘vaccine wary’ to take the vaccine? They will just stay later in the pubs and hold their parties in their houses.’

Alistair Ritchie, who owns Astoria in Portsmouth, called the latest announcement ‘unfair on clubs and unfair on society’. He told local media: ‘It will have a massive impact. If so many of your friends don’t have a vaccine passport, you just won’t go out.

‘And how will bars stop themselves from turning into nightclubs? If you go into a bar with music playing, are you allowed to dance? It is so frustrating. It feels like there’s a constant flurry of obstacles over the last year, it’s been one flaming hoop to jump through after another.’

Mr Zahawi promised the plans would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, and that there would be exemptions for people with a medical condition. More than 40 MPs have vowed to oppose any efforts to make vaccine passports compulsory for some venues. 

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance underlined the threat, saying clubs could be ‘potential super spreading events’. Some 35 per cent of 18 to 30-year-olds – three million people – are unvaccinated compared to far higher coverage in older age groups. 

The defiant stance came despite ‘Freedom Day’ being branded ‘disaster day’ by stricken businesses who are demanding the government dumps farcical test and trace rules to stop the country becoming the ‘United Pingdom’. 

The premier is holed up at his Chequers in Buckinghamshire after a comical U-turn on Sunday from initially saying he and Rishi Sunak would dodge quarantine after coming into contact with Covid-struck Sajid Javid. The PM has tested negative for coronavirus so far and is not displaying symptoms, according to No10.

But the lifting of almost all legal restrictions yesterday has been overshadowed by fears about spiking cases bringing the economy grinding to a halt, as more and more people are doomed to house arrest.  

Experts estimate around 1.7million people are still self-isolating after being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app or contacted by Test and Trace.

Firms including Iceland and Greene King have warned of serious problems, with some companies having to reduce hours or shut sites completely because up to a quarter of staff are off – as scientists warn the situation could spiral as the UK faces up to 200,000 cases a day. 

Mr Johnson told the briefing – attended in person by Sir Patrick and deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam – that he still believed it is the right time to drop restrictions, although he admitted reimposing them was still possible. 

But making the argument for keeping self-isolation rules, he said those identified as contacts were ‘at least five times more likely to be infected than others’.

‘I know how frustrating it is for all those who have been affected or pinged,’ he said. ‘Even if they have been vaccinated there is a significant risk that they can still pass the disease on.

‘And so as we go forward I’m afraid that the continuing sacrifice of this large minority, those of us who have been asked to isolate, remains important to allow the rest of society to get back to something like normality. I’m afraid that at this stage it’s simply a consequence of living with Covid and opening up when cases are high in the way that we are.’ 

Pictured: Revellers in Birmingham headed out in their droves to enjoy the first full night of reopened nightclubs

Mr Johnson said other countries had experienced ‘particular’ issues with nightclubs. Pictured: Astoria nighclub, Portsmouth

Pictured: Revellers queue for almost 300 meters to get into PRYZM nightclub on Broad Street in Birmingham on Freedom Day

Yesterday most of the remaining legal curbs on social contact were scrapped, but the Government says it ‘expects’ the public as well as employers and businesses to continue wearing facemasks and social distancing

Critical workers will be allowed to skip isolation 

Boris Johnson tonight gave a small number of ‘critical workers’ permission to skip Covid self-isolation as England struggles to cope with the pingdemic.

People working in food production or the water supply, plus electricians, soldiers, train drivers and care home staff will join NHS medics in having special dispensation to ignore the NHS app if they are pinged.

Mr Johnson said: ‘As you know we will be moving on August 16th to a system of testing rather than isolation for those who are double vaccinated by which time of course we hope that the wall of immunity in our country will be even higher.

‘And I want to assure you we will protect crucial services including the staffing of our hospitals and our care homes, the supplies of food, water, electricity, medicines, the running of our trains, the protection of our borders and the defence of our realm by making sure a small number, a very small number of named fully vaccinated critical workers are able to leave their isolation solely for the work I have described.’

But he confirmed that the rest of the country’s double-jabbed will not be exempted before August 16 – as well as making clear the sensitivity of the app will not be reduced. 

Speaking at a press conference from his Chequers self-isolation yesterday, the Prime Minister said: ‘There comes a point after so many have been vaccinated when further restrictions no longer prevent hospitalisations and deaths but simply delay the inevitable. So we have to ask ourselves the question: if not now, when?’

However, Mr Johnson said he wanted to ‘remind everybody that some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination’.  

‘There are already countries that require you to be double jabbed as a condition of quarantine free travel and that list seems likely to grow. And we are also concerned – as they are in other countries – by the continuing risk posed by nightclubs,’ he said,

‘I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again – as they have elsewhere – but it does means nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS Covid Pass which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity – as a means of entry.’

The stark change of tone towards vaccine refusers sparked fury from nightclubs, who branded the mixed messaging coming from ministers an ‘absolute shambles’.

And in a further worrying development the PM said that although he did not want to see Covid passports brought in for pubs ‘we reserve to do a right to do what is necessary to protect the public’. 

Mr Johnson defended the timing of lifting England’s coronavirus restrictions despite the rising cases. 

He argued that not opening up now, with the ‘firebreak’ offered by the school holidays, meant the risk of even tougher conditions in the colder winter months.

He added that other countries had experienced ‘particular’ issues with nightclubs. ‘I should serve notice now that by the end of September – when all over 18s will have had the chance to be double jabbed –we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.

‘Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient.’

Sir Patrick told the press conference: ‘Right the way across the world we’ve seen that nightclubs and venues where you’ve got lots of people indoors, crowded together, are a focus for potential super spreading events, and that has also been seen in terms of what’s happened in Holland and Israel where nightclubs opened, and you saw a big increase in cases.

‘So I think it’s… there’s no question that that is an environment in which spreading is easier, you’ve got lots of people quite close together, you’ve got the environment in which spreading becomes easier.

‘And I would expect that with opening of nightclubs, we’ll continue to see an increase in cases and we will see outbreaks related to specific nightclubs as well.

‘And that’s, again, why it’s so important that everybody comes and gets a vaccine, so that we can reduce the chance of spread, and we can reduce the chance of consequences of that spread.’ 

As the ‘pingdemic’ chaos gathered pace yesterday, the Road Haulage Association warned of impending chaos in supply chains, with chief executive Rod Mackenzie telling the FT: ‘Far from freedom day being freedom day, it’s going to be disaster day.’

In a key concession yesterday, frontline NHS workers will be let off the rules to prevent hospitals having to cancel operations because of staff shortages. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘As you know we will be moving on August 16th to a system of testing rather than isolation for those who are double vaccinated by which time of course we hope that the wall of immunity in our country will be even higher.

‘And I want to assure you we will protect crucial services including the staffing of our hospitals and our care homes, the supplies of food, water, electricity, medicines, the running of our trains, the protection of our borders and the defence of our realm by making sure a small number, a very small number of named fully vaccinated critical workers are able to leave their isolation solely for the work I have described.’ 

Clubbers in Birmingham’s Broad Street queued to get in to venues. Pictured: Four 19-year-old women from Solihull queue up

PRYZM saw huge queues outside the venue which has reopened its doors stretched for almost 300 meters around the block

Revellers get back on the dancefloor at Powerhouse nightclub in Newcastle at the stroke of midnight on Monday

Mr Johnson told the briefing – attended in person by Sir Patrick and deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam – that he still believed it is the right time to drop restrictions, although he admitted reimposing them was still possible

But he ignored calls from London Mayor Sadiq Khan and others by saying the double-jabbed will not be exempted before August 16 – as well as making clear the sensitivity of the app will not be reduced. 

Iceland supermarket boss Richard Walker accused the Government of ‘squandering the advantages’ of its successful vaccination programme by forcing double-jabbed people to self-isolate, adding: ‘We’re behaving like it’s the dark days of March 2020’.

Humphrey Cobbold, the CEO of PureGym, which has more than 1.1million members in 287 sites, said: ‘We’ve been talking internally about living in the United Pingdom and it’s become a huge challenge for individuals and businesses’, adding his staff are ‘being pinged all the time’.

He added: ‘Up to 25 per cent of our staff in some areas have been asked to self-isolate. Through flexibility we’ve been able to keep sites open so far but it’s been a really close call. I think there is a different way to react to the pings for the double vaccinated and using lateral flow tests that would keep the economy functioning’.  

Greene King pub boss Nick MacKenzie said: ‘It’s a problem and it could get worse. It is disruptive to the business. We had to close 33 pubs in the past week because of a lack of staff and across the industry we think it is one in 5 who have been affected by this and therefore it is causing us a real issue on a daily basis. We are having to have shorten hours in certain circumstances.’

He added: ‘We need clarity from government on how the app works and we need to move to a test and release scheme where people can take a lateral flow test every day and get back to work and some sort of normality’.

Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak had announced they would take part in a pilot scheme to avoid quarantine.  

But amid widespread outrage from politicians, business leaders and the public they humiliatingly caved in within hours and revealed they would join the legions of people self-isolating – in the PM’s case Chequers until July 26, his country estate in Buckinghamshire.

They had faced accusations they were accessing a ‘VIP lane’ that was not available to workers who are having to isolate, bringing some businesses and public transport to the brink of collapse. 

Humphrey Cobbold, the CEO of PureGym, which has more than 1.1million members in 287 sites, said: ‘We’ve been talking internally about living in the United Pingdom.’

 

Pingdemic pass for NHS staff: Ministers issue new rules for health workers to dodge self-isolation 

Critical frontline NHS and social care staff will be able to avoid self-isolation to go to work from yesterday if they are double-jabbed, the Government announced last night.

Ministers were under intense pressure to intervene as the ‘pingdemic’ took its toll on hospitals, with some forced to call off operations because of staff shortages.

Healthcare workers who have been in contact with a positive case will now, in exceptional circumstances, be able to return to work after they have had a negative PCR test.

They must then take daily lateral flow tests, and should wear PPE properly throughout their day at work.

It will apply to staff who have either been ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app or contacted by NHS Test and Trace. 

Staff who are permitted to go to work will remain under a legal duty to self-isolate as a close contact but will be considered to have a ‘reasonable excuse’ to attend work if their absence could result in harm.

Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis and only after a risk assessment by the organisation’s management, the Government said.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last night: ‘As we learn to live with this virus, it’s important that we ensure frontline staff can keep providing the best possible care and support to people up and down the country.

‘The Government has backed healthcare services at every turn through this global pandemic and these new rules will fortify our collective defences against this awful virus, by allowing fully vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff to continue to work when needed.’

UK Health Security Agency chief executive Jenny Harries said it was ‘imperative that we do everything we can to manage this virus and support our NHS and social care services under the strain of increased demand and sustained pressure’ amid rising cases.

‘We have provided specific guidance to NHS and social care settings for circumstances where there is a significant risk to health or safety resulting from staff absence or a critical service cannot run.

‘This measure only applies to double-vaccinated staff, who will only be able to attend work after testing negative on PCR and daily lateral flow tests, and following a risk assessment and the supervision of the health service.’

Several hospital trusts have hundreds of staff isolating at any one time. This has led to operations being cancelled in Leeds, Birmingham and in the North East.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham has postponed planned surgery for two days. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said the loss of staff is having a ‘significant impact’.

He added: ‘We absolutely know it’s contributing in some places to trusts having to reduce the amounts of elective surgery they’re doing.’

Last week the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine issued a call to exempt double-jabbed NHS staff from isolation over close contacts.

‘The risk of patients contracting Covid from vaccinated healthcare staff is minimal compared to the damage patients could suffer by having their treatment delayed,’ they said.

 

The PM’s  official spokesman said he did not know ‘specifically’ when Mr Johnson discovered Health Secretary Sajid Javid had tested positive for coronavirus, after they held a face-to-face meeting on Friday afternoon.

The official also could not confirm what day or time Mr Johnson was contacted by NHS Test and Trace, merely insisting he was at Chequers at the time.

The spokesman refused to say whether Carrie Johnson is with her husband in Buckinghamshire as well but did reveal Mr Sunak is quarantining in his flat above 10 Downing Street.

‘We do abide by the regulations and ministers have been taking the requisite precautions,’ the spokesman said.

‘It is down to NHS Test and Trace to decide what constitutes a close contact – there are broad guidelines but they may take other things into account.

‘The Chancellor, Prime Minister and Health Secretary, as you would expect, have a number of meetings which can last more than an hour certainly, so obviously Test and Trace have taken that decision, but it is not for me to comment on how they came to that decision.’

Earlier, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi dismissed calls for the app to be made less sensitive.

‘I think the right thing to do is to continue to clinically advise people, with that sensitivity, that they have come into contact with people who have tested positive,’ he told Sky News.

‘The difference now so that we’ve got almost 88 per cent of people with one dose and 68 per cent of people with two doses, so we can take decisions like we’ve just done with NHS and social care staff, we can make decisions that on August 16 anyone who is double vaccinated doesn’t need to then isolate if they are pinged and don’t test positive for Covid.

‘Those changes are happening because of the vaccination programme.’

Mr Zahawi denied the Government has been taking the public for ‘fools’ after insisting the PM only ‘briefly considered’ entering a pilot scheme to avoid having to self-isolate before deciding to stick to the rules.

No10 put out a statement yesterday morning confirming that Mr Johnson would use the exemption, and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick defended the move on TV before a sudden U-turn.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘No-one is taking anyone for fools.

‘Every decision the Prime Minister has had to make throughout this pandemic has been a tough decision – there are no easy options here.’

Mr Zahawi confirmed that the Cabinet Office and No 10 will ‘no longer be on the pilot scheme’.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng acknowledged the number of workers being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app was the ‘single biggest issue’ being raised with him by company bosses.

He told LBC ‘I accept it’s a difficult situation’ but ‘there isn’t any movement on it’, and it would still be August 16 before there was a wider relaxation of the self-isolation requirement.

‘I said I would make representations in Government, I said I would try and see what could be done,’ he said.

‘We have taken a collective decision. There are lots of different views but we took a collective decision, I think this is the right decision.’

But Mr Khan said the August 16 date should be brought forward. 

‘My concern is that the government has not realised that because most of us have received two jabs, the consequences of being pinged are very different now than what they were a year ago, in the second wave,’ he told NBC.

‘We’ve asked the government to bring forward this not least because of which many of our essential services, public transport, the health sector, police and fire services are being adversely affected by test and trace when members of their staff have had both jabs, haven’t got the virus, but have been told to self-isolate. 

‘Additionally, there are many small businesses that have 10, 11, 12 staff, and four or five of those staff are being pinged and contacted by test and trace, and businesses can’t reopen. We’re asking the government if it is possible to bring that date forward.’ 

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said he would turn the NHS Covid app off because it was ‘complete rubbish’.

He told Sky News it was ‘pinging’ people who were double vaccinated and added: ‘I would turn it off, I think it’s complete rubbish. You’re pinging people many of whom who are double jabbed.

‘There’s apps pinging all over the place, we don’t need that type of caution, I think, when 60 per cent-70 per cent of the adult population have been vaccinated. I would switch off the app, I don’t think it has any effect any more.’

Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses questioned why a system to avoid self-isolation was open to politicians.


HOW CASE RATES HAVE CHANGED IN THE UK FROM MAY 4 (LEFT) TO JULY 13 (RIGHT): Britain has quickly become an epicentre of the pandemic since May after the Indian variant was seeded in the country. Yellow areas show places which have an infection rate between 0 and 9 per 100,000; green shows rates between 10 and 49; blue is 50 to 99; dark blue represents 200 to 399; purple equates to a rate of between 400 and 799; black shows the worst-hit regions with rates above 800 per 100,000

Majority of public oppose Freedom Day happening 

Freedom Day is unlikely to see the majority of English people stampeding out to celebrate the end to restrictions with a hedonistic spirit of excess, a new poll revealed yesterday.

More than half (55 per cent) of those polled by YouGov for the Times yesterday said they believed Boris Johnson was wrong to drop Covid restrictions yesterday, amid concerns at spiralling Covid cases.

Fewer than a third (31 per cent) said they would be happy to go to a party within the next few weeks, with 53 per cent saying they would not.

A similar amount (34 per cent) said they would be happy going to the theatre now that restrictions are gone, against 48 per cent who would not.

And the hesitancy is not just prevalent among older English people – only 20 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 said they would be happy to visit a nightclub, with more than half (53 per cent) saying they would stay away.

‘Small firms have been struggling to get across mixed messaging regarding the reopening for weeks now, and this is no different,’ he said.

‘Thousands of small businesses will now be left wondering why the testing pilot is only open to those at the top of government and a handful of big corporates and organisations but not them.’

The CBI said there was an urgent need ‘to allow double-jabbed individuals not to self-isolate if they have been informed by NHS Test and Trace that they have come into contact with a Covid positive individual’.

The British Retail Consortium called for pinged store staff to be able to continue to work if they had a negative test result.

James Bielby of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors said: ‘Food supply chain workers are key workers and, unlike Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak, their workplace doesn’t close down for the summer.

‘They’re needed not only to keep shelves and storerooms stocked, but also to drive the economic recovery of the hospitality sector which the Prime Minister and Chancellor are depending on.’

Writing in the Daily Mail, Tony Blair said the self-isolation system was ‘not rational’. Its chaotic results have led to hospitals postponing operations, factories cancelling shifts, disruption to rail services and fears of food shortages.

The boss of Marks and Spencer, Steve Rowe, warned a staff exodus could force the chain to reduce opening hours.

Meanwhile, Andrew Lloyd Webber said ‘freedom day has turned into closure day” following the cancellation of performances of his West End show Cinderella.

In a statement, the composer labelled the Government’s self-isolation rules as a ‘blunt instrument’ as he announced Monday’s performance of the musical would not go ahead.

Two instalments of the musical at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre were previously axed on Saturday as a result of a positive coronavirus test among the production’s staff.

Lord Lloyd-Webber said that, although other members of the the cast had tested negative, the production could now not go ahead because of ‘the impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the Government’s self-isolation guidance’.

‘We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show,’ he added.

‘Cinderella was ready to go.

‘My sadness for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I have been fighting for is impossible to put into words.’ 

From yesterday fully vaccinated frontline NHS and social care workers who are a contact of a positive case will be allowed to work in exceptional circumstances.

A YouGov poll for The Times found that a majority of the public does not support Freedom Day going ahead 


Humphrey Cobbold (left), the CEO of PureGym, and Greene King pub boss Nick MacKenzie (right) have both called for the self-isolation rules to change and move towards test and release

They will have to take a PCR test and daily lateral flow tests for the duration of the period they would otherwise have been in isolation

The Adam Smith Institute yesterday estimated more than 1.7million people were isolating across the UK and warned the figure could reach 5.2 million in a month.

A senior Tory said: ‘They ought to have said last week that ‘We’re bringing the August 16 date [on easing the isolation rules] forward so that people who are double vaccinated and have a negative test can go out and do as they please’.

‘If they’d done that, the Prime Minister wouldn’t be having to self-isolate now.’

Mr Johnson admitted in a video posted from isolation at his official country residence Chequers that it was ‘far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules’.

And he begged for caution amid warnings from scientists that cases could reach 200,000 a day before the current wave of the virus peaks.

Dominic Cummings, the PM’s former adviser, suggested he had been ‘forced to U-turn’ on self-isolation by the Chancellor. Downing Street denied the claims, but came under friendly fire from insiders.

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