UK Covid live news: Minister emphasizes that those interviewed by the NHS app can choose not to self-isolate

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Hello. Business leaders are increasingly concerned about the so-called “pingemia” caused by the growing number of people being asked to self-isolate because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Last night, Boris Johnson said critical workers would be exempted and would be allowed to use regular testing instead as long as they were fully vaccinated. (We are to receive the list today indicating who will count as a critical worker.) But this morning Paul Scully, the Minister of Business, proposed an alternative solution; you can still ignore a ping from the NHS Covid app, he stressed.

Scully was able to tell because, while an NHS isolation testing and tracking instruction is a legal requirement, a ping of the app is just advice. It wasn’t a distinction that was widely announced when the app was launched, but ministers now seem keen to highlight it.

Scully told Times Radio:

It is important to understand the rules. You must legally isolate yourself if you are on the… tested and traced, or if you are trying to claim isolation payments.
The app is here to give… to help you make informed decisions. And I think that by giving up on demanding a lot of things, we are encouraging people to really have the data in their hands so that they can make decisions about what is best for them, whether they are employers or employees.

When asked whether or not that meant people had to isolate themselves if they were interviewed, Scully replied, “We want to encourage people to keep using the app so that we can do the right thing, because we estimate that this saves about 8,000 lives. But he said it was “up to individuals and employers.”

As Steven Swinford of The Times, Scully’s fellow Minister of Affairs, reports, Lord Grimstone, also made this point in a letter to employers.

Steven Swinford
(@Steven_Swinford)

Exclusive:

Ministers wrote to major manufacturers to stress that staff are not legally obligated to self-isolate if questioned by the app

Lord Grimstone, Minister of Investment, told major employer the app was just an ‘advisory tool’ and people had no ‘legal obligation’

July 20, 2021

Here is the program for the day.

9h30 : Boris Johnson chairs the cabinet.

9h30 : The ONS publishes its latest weekly figures on deaths in England and Wales.

10h30 : Lord Bethell, the Minister of Health, testifies before the Commons Health Committee about the NHS patient data sharing program.

10h45 : Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, testifies before the House of Commons affairs committee on the steel industry and home heating.

11:30 am: Downing Street holds its daily briefing in the lobby.

11:30 am: Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, delivers a speech to the Center for Social Justice.

12h : The Ministry of Education publishes school attendance figures.

12h15 : Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, gives a briefing.

12h30 : A Foreign Minister responds to an urgent question from the House of Commons on the Chinese state-backed Microsoft Exchange hack.

Politics Live has recently been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news and it probably is today. For more developments on coronaviruses, follow our Global Covid Live Blog.

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