Boris Johnson to give press conference today from self-isolation

The prime minister will appear via video link from Chequers

Joe Middleton
Monday 19 July 2021 14:35
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<p>Boris Johnson is currently in self-isolation at Chequers</p>

Boris Johnson is currently in self-isolation at Chequers

Boris Johnson will lead a Covid press conference remotely from Chequers at 5pm today.

The prime minister will appear via video link from his official country residence where he is in self-isolation after coming into contact with health secretary Sajid Javid, who has tested positive for coronavirus.

UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s deputy medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam will also contribute from Downing Street.

It is not yet clear what Mr Johnson will be discussing at the press conference or if he will be announcing any changes to the government’s Covid roadmap after a recent spike in cases.

The briefing later this afternoon comes as England officially entered so-called “Freedom Day” as most coronavirus restrictions in England have now been scrapped.

Social distancing rules ended on Monday morning and face masks are no longer mandatory in shops or on public transport.

Nightclubs, theatres and restaurants can fully reopen and pubs are no longer restricted to table service only.

However the mood of the reopening in England is far from celebratory as Covid cases continue to soar and some scientists and medics have criticised the government’s “criminal” strategy.

The prime minister is also likely to face questions about yesterday’s U-turn on his decision to self-isolate that prompted a fierce political backlash.

Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were both “pinged” by NHS Test and Trace after coming into contact with Mr Javid, who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

However they tried to get round the requirement to quarantine by saying they would join a daily workplace testing programme being trialled by the Cabinet Office and No 10.

But the blowback was fierce from political opponents and the wider public who flooded social media sites with memes attacking the government.

The prime minister later on Sunday released a video on Twitter claiming he had only “looked briefly at the idea” of using the pilot scheme.

Mr Johnson is also likely to be questioned about the hundreds of thousands of people also in self-isolation, with industries complaining of a shortage of staff that have been “pinged” by the NHS Test and Trace app.

PureGym boss Humphrey Cobbold told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that one in four of his staff had been notified to stay at home while Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of hospitality chain Greene King, told the programme 33 of the pubs his company run were shut last week due to staff shortages.

Richard Walker, managing director of supermarket chain Iceland, said: “We have got a 50% increase week on week in terms of people off and it’s a 400% increase compared to mid-June.”

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