Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News that removing the 10-day deadline self-isolation The policy for those who have received two doses of the vaccine and those under 18 from August rather than July 19 gives “a measure of protection.”
His comments came as some Tory MPs and business leaders reacted furiously after Health Secretary Sajid Javid said fully vaccinated children and adults will have to follow current self-isolation rules until August 16 – six weeks beyond the government’s expected final date relaxation of containment step.
This means that they will have to stay home for 10 days if they come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
The Department of Health and Welfare said people who receive their second vaccine just before or just after Aug. 16 should wait another two weeks before being released from isolation, which will allow the jab to take effect.
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Mr Kwarteng admitted that the plan “is not a perfect solution”, but said postponing the lifting of self-isolation rules for some people until the following month “will give a little more protection”.
“You can’t have it both ways. On the one hand, we say that we want to reopen but we are giving a precautionary measure in terms of delaying… the lifting of self-isolation restrictions, ”he said.
“It’s a balance. This is not a perfect solution, but on the one hand we say that we can reopen and on the other hand we say that we want to give a little more protection in terms of self-isolation rules. “
Mr. Kwarteng then defended the government’s plan to reopen as “perfectly reasonable”.
But former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith accused the government of “spreading the message”.
He told the Telegraph that delaying changes to the self-isolation regime until next month means “Freedom Day is being delayed” and “is mocking” the idea that July 19 was the end of restrictions. .
Responding to Mr Kwarteng’s comments, UKHospitality General Manager Kate Nicholls said: “This is not a or – we understand the need for caution and effective control of transmission.
“What we’re asking for is a pragmatic adjustment to avoid disadvantageous young workers – the international travel release test will reduce disruption without reducing protection. “
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy has called for better sick pay measures for people who need to self-isolate.
“People shouldn’t be forced to choose between protecting their families and protecting the country,” she told Sky News.
Meanwhile, when asked if the prediction that 5,000 people could acquire one long COVID a day is correct, the business secretary admitted that it “is not beyond imagination.”
He also confirmed that he would continue to wear a mask on public transport, despite removing the legal requirement to do so from July 19 – if the government’s four key tests to ease the remaining restrictions are met.
“Personally, I use the tube a lot in London and I would probably wear a mask in that context, on the tube, on public transport,” he said.
“It’s a personal point of view, it’s not something that I would necessarily mandate or dictate to other people. “
On Tuesday, Mr Javid also said he would continue to wear a face mask “for the foreseeable future” as the government faces a growing backlash against plans to drop compulsory wearing on public transport.
“If I am in a crowded or confined space, I will wear a face mask. In fact, I will wear one if I was next to someone or near someone who felt uncomfortable around others not wearing face masks.
“And that’s what I mean by personality responsibility,” he told Sky News.