Calls for intervention build as ministers U-turn on dodging isolation

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pingdemic: pub bosses have blasted the Government after ministers were forced to U-turn after initially announcing they would not isolate (image: Getty/SolStock)
Pingdemic: pub bosses have blasted the Government after ministers were forced to U-turn after initially announcing they would not isolate (image: Getty/SolStock)

Related tags: Coronavirus, Nhs, Greene king, Legislation, Prime minister, Rishi Sunak

Bosses have slammed current Covid rules after the Chancellor and the Prime Minister were forced to backtrack on avoiding self-isolation.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were identified as close contacts of health secretary Sajid Javid, who recently tested positive for the virus.

The pair initially said they would not be self-isolating due to participating in a Government pilot scheme but were forced to U-turn within three hours after criticism. 

“While 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,” Sunak tweeted.

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

Venue closures

It comes as hospitality businesses have been hit hard by staff members being instructed to self-isolate for up to 10 days.

Pub giant Greene King said it had been forced to close 33 pubs in the past seven days due to staff shortages.

The law will change on 16 August so that double-jabbed close contacts do not have to isolate once they receive a negative PCR test.

However, hospitality bosses said this still leaves the sector in the lurch owing to its young workforce who will not be fully vaccinated for some time.

Trade bodies have called for a test to release scheme that will allow workers to return to work quicker, similar to schemes used for international scheme. They have also called on ministers to bring the 16 August change forward. 

Grind to standstill

Chief executive of Camerons Brewery Chris Soley told The Morning Advertiser​ that current rules were not “fit for purpose” and called for a test to release system.

The PM and Chancellor’s initial decision “underlines that the rules are out of step with where we are in the vaccination process,” Soley said.

He added: “Ultimately Rishi and Boris had to back track otherwise they would face public dissent, but hopefully this incident will push them into reevaluating the current rules.”

The brewing boss called for changes to the system to allow people to return to work quicker. “Otherwise the country could grind to a standstill and thousands of pubs and restaurants forced to close, without financial support, within days,” he added.

Related topics: Health & safety

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