Prime Minister Boris Johnson quickly U-turned on using a little-known scheme for himself and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to avoid coronavirus quarantine after widespread outrage over the apparent double standards.
Mr Johnson had initially said that he and the Chancellor would not quarantine after they were “pinged” by the country’s track-and-trace system after the fully vaccinated Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for COVID-19.
The Prime Minister said that rather than quarantining, they would instead take advantage of a scheme that would allow them to take daily tests for the Chinese virus as an alternative.
This scheme was used by Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove in June after he travelled to Portugal to watch Chelsea in the Champions League final. While the average citizen would have been prohibited from leaving their homes, Gove was quietly entered into a ‘trial scheme’ of the daily testing programme and therefore avoided quarantine.
Amid a flurry of criticism over the initial announcement, the Prime Minister has backtracked and said that both he and Mr Sunak will spend the next ten days in self-isolation.
Downing Street said that Johnson will conduct meetings remotely at Chequers, according to the BBC.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “Whilst 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.”
“To that end, I’ll be self-isolating as normal and not taking part in the pilot,” he added.
Boris Johnson has been identified by the country's test-and-trace system as a contact of a confirmed coronavirus case – but unlike thousands of his compatriots, he won't have to stay home for 10 days https://t.co/dJPnSaVV98
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 18, 2021
Prior to the U-turn, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said that the government has been “busted yet again for thinking the rules that we are all following don’t apply to them”.
“The public have done so much to stick to the rules. At a time when we need to maintain confidence in self-isolation, parents, workers and businesses will be wondering what on earth is going on in Downing Street,” he said.
“The way the Prime Minister conducts himself creates chaos, makes for bad government and has deadly consequences for the British public.”
Mr Starmer was likely referring to former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who was forced to resign after it emerged that he had breached the very draconian lockdown restrictions he pushed over the past year through having a romantic affair with a top staffer.
Despite a seemingly clear breaching the restrictions, the police have refused to investigate Mr Hancock.
Another notable example of the two-tiered lockdown came last year, when ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Fergusson breached his own lockdown restrictions when he visited his married lover, who was herself self-isolating at the time.
While Fergusson initially stepped down from his government position, he has since returned to an advisory role.
When they're posing for one of their staged photographs the G7 elite all pretend, for propaganda purposes, that they are Covid regulation compliant. But look at what they got up to later… https://t.co/086ApEYCWJ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 12, 2021
The Tory government also received criticism from the political right on Sunday morning, with Brexit leader Nigel Farage warning that the apparent ‘rules for thee but not for me’ attitude shown by the government is leading to a “rule fatigue” and “lockdown fatigue” among the British people.
“If we see it’s one rule for them or one rule for us you will increasingly see a lack of respect for what government says,” Farage said.
The Brexit leader also expressed his doubt that the so-called “freedom day” on Monday will have any significant impact on people’s lives, saying: “If we turn up at Waitrose or Sainsbury’s tomorrow morning we will have to wear a face mask. If we go into the pub to order a beer, I bet you the landlords will be very worried, we’ll have to wear a face mask. Very little is changing tomorrow.
“I think the fact of it is there are half a million people right now in France who suddenly are told that when they come back the rules have changed and they’ve got a quarantine, it isn’t freedom day for them is it?”
Two-Tier Lockdown: Tory Govt Exempts Elite ‘Senior Executives’ From COVID Quarantine https://t.co/iHPH9zwHqc
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 29, 2021
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