‘OUR Freedom Day lasted 17 HOURS’: Nightclub bosses blast plan for compulsory vaccine passports

Furious hospitality chiefs have slammed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to make vaccine passports compulsory in nightclubs and other ‘crowded’ venues from September as England’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’ descended into an ‘absolute shambles’.

At a Downing Street press conference last night, Mr Johnson – who is self-isolating in Chequers after he was ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app – announced that proof of double-vaccination will be a ‘condition of entry’ at clubs just hours after they reopened for the first time in 16 months.

He declined to specify which other venues will be targeted and even failed to rule out extending the scheme to other hospitality venues, including pubs. The policy is a major U-turn, with Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Nadhim Zahawi previously denying there were plans to introduce so-called ‘Covid status certification’ and Downing Street calling such a move ‘discriminatory’. 

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.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said last night: ‘So, ‘Freedom Day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then. 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?’

However, the Government appears likely to face a parliamentary challenge over the proposals. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: ‘Vaccine passports are Covid ID cards: unworkable, expensive and divisive. They would place a huge, unfair burden on local businesses, which have already been hit so badly by the pandemic and can’t afford the extra costs of enforcing this system.’ 

Appearing on Sky News this morning, Business Minister Paul Scully denied that the scheme is a ‘bribe’ to young people to get their jabs and downplayed reports that passports will be extended to ‘crowded pubs’. He also said passports for nightclubs was not being introduced until September in order to get the ‘detail’ right and ‘get through parliamentary scrutiny’. 

Asked whether he was comfortable with the Conservative Party implementing something similar to an ID card, Mr Scully 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.’ 

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.’ 

Amid concerns that vaccine passports will be extended beyond nightclubs, 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’. 

The U-turn came despite Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi saying 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.   

In other coronavirus developments: 

  • People working in food production or the water supply, plus electricians, soldiers, train drivers and care home staff will join medics in having special dispensation to ignore the NHS app if they are pinged; 
  • Keir Starmer demanded Mr Johnson backtracks on lifting all legal restrictions saying he had got ‘virtually every big decision wrong’ and tens of thousands of lives have been ‘lost unnecessarily’;
  • The Labour leader demanded an explanation for the ‘hypocritical’ initial effort to avoid self-isolation and branded the PM ‘chaotic and incompetent’;
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggested the exemption from self-isolation for the double-jabbed should be brought forward from August 16; 
  • Tony Blair said it makes ‘no sense’ for the vaccinated to be kept isolating when we are at such a critical juncture in the fight against the pandemic;
  • RyanAir chief Michael O’Leary has advised people to ‘turn off’ the Covid app because it is ‘complete rubbish’;  
  • Nightclubs across the country have thrown open their doors to celebrate the arrival of Freedom Day – but 73 per cent of clubbers had previously said they did not want to return as the nation tiptoes out of lockdown;  







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 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 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

Nightclubs branded mixed messaging coming from ministers an 'absolute shambles' after venues across the country welcomed clubbers back after months of closures last night. Pictured: Revellers enjoy their first night to a club in Portsmouth

Nightclubs branded mixed messaging coming from ministers an 'absolute shambles' after venues across the country welcomed clubbers back after months of closures last night. Pictured: Revellers enjoy their first night to a club in Portsmouth

Nightclubs branded mixed messaging coming from ministers an ‘absolute shambles’ after venues across the country welcomed clubbers back after months of closures last night. Pictured: Revellers enjoy their first night to a club in Portsmouth

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said last night: 'So, 'Freedom Day' for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then'

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said last night: 'So, 'Freedom Day' for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then'

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls

UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls

Michael Kill (left), chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said last night: ‘So, ‘Freedom Day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then’. Right: UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls

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

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

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








UK Covid cases rise 16% amid claims dire warnings about peak are ‘a bit over the top’ 

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.

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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.’  

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.’

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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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.’

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’.  

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.

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.

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.








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. 








The Prime Minister used a social media video (pictured) yesterday to confirm he had been 'pinged' after Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for the virus and will be isolating at Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, until July 26.

The Prime Minister used a social media video (pictured) yesterday to confirm he had been 'pinged' after Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for the virus and will be isolating at Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, until July 26.

The Prime Minister used a social media video (pictured) yesterday to confirm he had been ‘pinged’ after Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for the virus and will be isolating at Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, until July 26.

Travellers on the Tube in London yesterday as the loosening of restrictions takes effect across England

Travellers on the Tube in London yesterday as the loosening of restrictions takes effect across England

Travellers on the Tube in London yesterday as the loosening of restrictions takes effect across England

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.'

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.'

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.’

Revellers get back on the dancefloor at Powerhouse nightclub in Newcastle at the stroke of midnight, wasting no time to enjoy their first taste of clubbing since last March

 








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.

 

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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.’ 

MAY 4

MAY 4

JULY 13

JULY 13

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.

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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.

‘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

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

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

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

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

Greene King pub boss Nick MacKenzie said today: 'It's a problem and it could get worse.

Greene King pub boss Nick MacKenzie said today: 'It's a problem and it could get worse.

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.

A well-placed source said: ‘This has been a classic shambolic situation where decisions are taken without being properly discussed or considered, so we just lurch from one plan to another.

‘I’m a little bit worried we’re just blindly walking into a very similar situation that saw the PM end up in hospital last year because people think they’re too important or invincible for the rules to apply.’

A senior Tory MP said: ‘It is appalling that such basic mistakes are being made which simply serve to send out the message of one rule for the public and another rule for us. They need to start looking at themselves rather than everyone else.’ 

Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured together) had announced yesterday they would take part in a pilot scheme to avoid quarantine. This sparked furious accusations of 'one rule for them and another rule for everybody else'

Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured together) had announced yesterday they would take part in a pilot scheme to avoid quarantine. This sparked furious accusations of 'one rule for them and another rule for everybody else'

Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured together) had announced yesterday they would take part in a pilot scheme to avoid quarantine. This sparked furious accusations of ‘one rule for them and another rule for everybody else’








The 'pingdemic' has had chaotic results which included hospitals postponing operations due to staff self-isolating (file pic)

The 'pingdemic' has had chaotic results which included hospitals postponing operations due to staff self-isolating (file pic)

The ‘pingdemic’ has had chaotic results which included hospitals postponing operations due to staff self-isolating (file pic)

Tory WhatsApp groups were abuzz with MPs sharing their frustration at the initial statement when it was ‘blindingly obvious that this was not going to be a sustainable position’. 

Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, told the Telegraph: ‘The rules proposed for after August 16 are sensible and reflect the reduced risk if fully vaccinated, but they need to be brought forward, along with altered app advice and sensitivity, to now.

‘We are going to have to learn to live with Covid, trust the public to balance the risks of life and believe in the evidence that continues to show how effective our vaccines are.’

Labour leader Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of being ‘magically selected’ for the pilot scheme so he could ‘avoid isolation like the rest of us’.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, Sir Keir wrote: ‘There are hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced to miss family events, close businesses and go without pay because they have done the right thing. And yet ministers have played the system.’

People in England will today emerge from lockdown with the government's final major easing of restrictions

People in England will today emerge from lockdown with the government's final major easing of restrictions

People in England will today emerge from lockdown with the government’s final major easing of restrictions

How does the pilot scheme work? 

The daily contact testing study is being run by Public Health England to determine the effect of allowing people to avoid self-isolating. 

 It was launched in April and has already been used by Michael Gove, who was alerted after travelling to Portugal for the Champions League final. 

It contains two groups. One is a test group who get one PCR test and have to isolate as normal even if it is negative.

But a second group is given a daily lateral flow test and members are allowed to leave isolation each day afterward if it is negative.

Only participants in the daily testing group who continue to test negative and do not have symptoms are excused from the legal duty to self-isolate each day,’ the Government said as it was announced.

‘Participants in the daily testing group will have a legal duty to tell their employer that they’re taking part in the study, and if they stop taking part for any reason.’

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Defending Mr Johnson’s initial decision, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘The Chancellor and the Prime Minister will be able to conduct the most essential Government meetings but the rest of their time will have to be spent isolating and not meeting up with family or friends or socialising. So it is relatively restrictive.’

Addressing whether he would quarantine in a video, Mr Johnson said: ‘We did look briefly into the idea of us taking part in the pilot scheme which allows people to test daily, but I think it’s far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules.

‘That’s why I’m going to be self-isolating until the 26th of July. I really do urge everybody to stick with the programme and take the appropriate course of action when you’re asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.’      

Mr Johnson faced condemnation over the plan, which comes as tens of thousands of workers are forced to isolate by a Covid app ‘pingdemic’.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said: ‘The only reason that he’s U-turned on this is because he’s been busted. It’s like bank robbers who’ve got caught and now they’re offering the money back.’

In a snap poll carried out by market researcher Savanta ComRes, which surveyed 1,003 English adults, 60 per cent said the Prime Minister’s plan to dodge self-isolation was ‘unfair’.

In addition, 75 per cent (three quarters) agreed with the statement: ‘There is one rule for members of the government and another rule for everyone else.’ 

And one of the UK’s top epidemiologists has refused to rule out a new lockdown before Christmas today as Boris’s plans for a triumphant end to more than six months of in England tomorrow collapsed into complete disarray.

Prof Neil Ferguson said he ‘can’t be certain’ over whether the country will need to lock down again in the winter before Christmas.

But he admitted that in a worst-case scenario ‘there may be a need to basically slow spread to some extent’ to ease pressure on the NHS

But appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said that it was possible 2,000 people would be hospitalised a day, and 200,000 new daily cases, but it would be three weeks before the impact of Freedom Day tomorrow is known.  

Prof Ferguson said: ‘We’ll know it’s worked when case numbers plateau and start going down, we know then hospitalisations and deaths will take some more weeks.

‘The best projections suggest that could happen any time from, really, mid-August to mid-September. So, we will have to be patient.

‘It’ll also take us three weeks before we know the effect of Monday, of relaxing restrictions, and what that will do to case numbers. So, it’s going to be quite a period of time.’

It comes as Covid cases across the UK soared by 52 per cent week-on-week with the number of deaths has fallen slightly.

The UK yesterday recorded 48,161 Covid cases – up from the 31,772 cases recorded last Sunday. 

The PM's announcement sparked fury - and a wave of memes - on Twitter this morning.

The PM's announcement sparked fury - and a wave of memes - on Twitter this morning.

The PM’s announcement sparked fury – and a wave of memes – on Twitter this morning.

Up to 1million people were asked to self-isolate last week but that figure could hit 5.6million by the end of the month, if cases spiral by 75 per cent every week (right), according to MailOnline analysis. Separate projections based on a growth rate of 40 per cent - similar to what Test and Trace reported last week - says the number of those self-isolating could hit 3million a week

Up to 1million people were asked to self-isolate last week but that figure could hit 5.6million by the end of the month, if cases spiral by 75 per cent every week (right), according to MailOnline analysis. Separate projections based on a growth rate of 40 per cent - similar to what Test and Trace reported last week - says the number of those self-isolating could hit 3million a week

Up to 1million people were asked to self-isolate last week but that figure could hit 5.6million by the end of the month, if cases spiral by 75 per cent every week (right), according to MailOnline analysis. Separate projections based on a growth rate of 40 per cent – similar to what Test and Trace reported last week – says the number of those self-isolating could hit 3million a week

In his full video message, Mr Johnson said: ‘Like so many hundreds of thousands of other people across the country, I’ve been pinged.

‘I’ve been asked to self-isolate by the Test and Trace isolate system, after I’ve been in contact with someone who has Covid, in this case of course, the Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

‘And we did look briefly at the idea of us taking part in the pilot scheme which allows people to test daily.

‘But I think it is far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules. That’s why I’m going to be self-isolating until Monday, July 26.

‘I know how frustrating it all is but I really do urge everybody to stick with the programme and take the appropriate course of action when you’re asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

‘The reason for that is we’re going tomorrow into step four, we’re doing a big opening up. 

‘And that’s quite right. If we don’t do it now, then we’ll be opening up in the Autumn and Winter months when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather. We lose the precious firebreak that we get with the school holidays. 

‘If we don’t do it now, we have to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it. So this is the right moment.

‘But we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there. Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.

‘But we have this immense consolation and satisfaction that there is no doubt at all that the vaccine programme – the massive vaccination programme – has very severely weakened the link between infection and hospitalisation, and between infection and serious illness and death.

‘So please, please, please be cautious and go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present.

‘And above all, please, please, please, when you’re asked to get that second jab, get your jab, please come forward and do it.’

Covid hospitalisations are above the levels estimated by SAGE for mid-July, at 559 on average. SAGE says there could be 2,000 a day in August when they think the second wave will peak

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