In a dead cat Covid announcement to distract from trials over his leadership, Boris Johnson said it was his intention to stop people having to self-isolate - even if you have Covid - on February 24
Boris Johnson today announced a shock plan to end all Covid self-isolation laws in England in just two weeks' time.
The Prime Minister unveiled a 'dead cat' strategy at Prime Minister's Questions as he faces questions over his future in the job - and a new photo that shows him with an open bottle of bubble at a No10 Christmas quiz.
He revealed he plans to end self-isolation for people who test positive for coronavirus "a full month earlier" than planned, and will confirm the exact date in a statement to MPs on Monday 21 February.
Self-isolation regulations expire on March 24. That means the law is set be axed on around Thursday 24 February, two weeks from now.
Mr Johnson said: “It is my intention to return on the first day after the half term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.
Boris Johnson made the surprise announcement at Prime Minister's Questions ( Image: PA)
“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we’ll be able to end the last domestic restrictions, including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive, a full month early.”
The decision will end almost exactly two years of legally-enforced isolation for people who test positive for the virus.
No10 today said it was a major step and faster than other European countries, but added: "We’re not saying isolation is pointless.
"We’d expect anyone with an infectious disease to take steps not to spread that disease further - a colleague at work with flu, for example."
The legal change will also end powers which councils had under the Coronavirus Act in England to close some venues. However, these powers were barely ever used.
Boris Johnson told MPs last month: “As Covid becomes endemic we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.
"The self-isolation regulations expire on 24th March, at which point I very much expect not to renew them.
"Indeed were the data to allow, I would like to seek a vote in this House to bring that date forwards."
Mandatory self-isolation was already scrapped last year for close contacts of Covid cases.
Self-isolation is more or less the last remaining rule that's been with us since the start of the pandemic ( Image: Alamy Live News.)
However, people who test positive for the virus must still go into self-isolation for five full days in England, a period that has been repeatedly cut from 10 days and seven days.
Under the current rules, people have isolate for at least five full days, starting at 12.01am the day after their positive test or the start of symptoms.
They are then able to leave isolation at the start of the sixth full day - if they have tested negative for Covid on both Day 5 and Day 6.
The Government is expected to publish plans to live with Covid after recess ends in the final week of February.
The Covid winter plan published last September said free lateral flow tests would eventually be scrapped but no date has been set for doing so.
It is also unclear whether the £500 isolation payment will end.
Bereaved families blasted the Prime Minister for "bragging about lifting restrictions a month early" when 314 people died in the last 24 hours.
Lobby Akinnola, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: The Prime Minister might wish that this disease was no more dangerous than the flu, but the reality is that he is throwing the most vulnerable in our society to the wolves.
"Once again there seems to be a failure in 10 Downing Street to recognise what their own Covid-19 policies mean for others in comparison to themselves.
"Just as they partied whilst the rest of us endured brutal lockdowns, they are once again opening the floodgates for Covid-19, with others being left to suffer the deadly consequences."
Mr Johnson announced the plan as he faces increasing pressure over his leadership.
The threat of an immediate no-confidence vote appeared to be receding today after the Prime Minister unveiled changes to his team in 10 Downing Street, and MPs prepared to break off for February recess on Thursday.
But Top Tories have warned Boris Johnson faces D-Day when two final reports are published on Partygate - and it could be “terminal” for his leadership.
The Mirror has revealed a new photo of Boris Johnson at a No10 Christmas party
But some senior Conservatives, publicly and privately, predicted he will be tipped into a moment of danger when Sue Gray sends a second report and the Met Police give their decisions on 12 parties in No10 and Whitehall.
The PM’s former leadership rival Jeremy Hunt warned the PM is in “limbo”, will face a “final judgement” after the two reports, and things may not “get back to normal”.
Meanwhile, a former Cabinet minister told the Mirror it would be “terminal” if Sue Gray found the Prime Minister lied to Parliament, or if he was handed a fine by police.
The Covid rules announcement did not even placate lockdown sceptic Tory Mark Harper, who demanded to know if Mr Johnson would publish the second Sue Gray report on parties in full once police finish their investigation.
"I will immediately publish in full whatever Sue Gray gives me," the PM replied.
Source: The Daily Mirror