The UK ports chief warned of food shortages, as trains were canceled and councils told residents garden bins would not be emptied for 10 weeks due to understaffing.
With forecasts that 10 million people could self-isolate by mid-August unless politics change, Tory MPs were privately dismayed and began calling their government whips to complain that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Sunak dodged self-isolation. The messages went to number 10.
Then, two hours 40 minutes after the first message, a new statement was issued. Mr Johnson “was at Checkers when contacted by Test and Trace and will stay there to self-isolate. He will not participate in the test pilot. He will continue to hold meetings with ministers remotely, ”he said.
“The Chancellor has also been contacted and will also isolate himself if necessary and will not participate in the pilot. “
Mr Sunak, now isolated in his grace and favoring the Downing Street apartment above Number 10, had posted his own statement on Twitter a minute earlier, perhaps to put some distance between himself and the chaos in low.
“I admit that even the feeling that the rules are not the same for everyone is wrong. To this end, I will isolate myself normally and I will not participate in the pilot, ”he said.
Watching over the chaos, a Cabinet minister blamed a conspiracy scam, insisting that Number 10 released its 8 a.m. statement on “normal exercise” before properly considering “the implications of this. they suggested ”.
A second said Downing Street was then frightened by the “adverse reaction which seemed to be about to spread”.
At 3:20 p.m., Mr Johnson posted a video telling his 3.5 million Twitter followers that he would now self-isolate at Checkers, his official country residence, until Monday next week.
Surprisingly, he tried to claim that the government had considered joining the program “briefly” rather than announcing that the couple had done so. He stressed that there would be no change to the rules. He said: “We briefly looked at the idea of participating in the pilot program that allows people to test on a daily basis, but I think it’s much more important that everyone follow the same rules. “
Two hours later, just after 5 p.m., Downing Street announced that it had officially withdrawn from the pilot project. “Number 10 will not be participating in the pilot from now on,” a spokesperson said.
But the descent seems unlikely to have come soon enough – or gone far enough – to dampen the anger that now seems poised to eclipse what Mr Johnson once called the ‘terminus’ of Covid restrictions .