UNITED Kingdom’s Labour party is calling on the government to bring forward the date on which double-jabbed people will no longer be told to self-isolate in England.
Sir Keir Starmer wants to bring England in to line with Wales, which confirmed on Thursday that rules would be eased on 7 August.
He says it has been “a summer of chaos” for families and businesses.
Downing Street says keeping quarantine requirements until August 16 gives more time for vaccinations.
But in a statement, Sir Keir said the government “has never been able to explain the logic of their self-isolation rules” and has just “repeated the same mistakes over and over again”.
He said: “The government’s slapdash approach to this global pandemic is crippling our economy and creating real problems for businesses and families alike.”
And asked in an interview what the logic was behind bringing England’s timeframe forward, Mr Starmer said there was a “huge difference between the dates”.
“In these nine days’ difference, there are hundreds of thousands of working days that will not be lost, businesses that won’t have the chaos they’re facing at the moment.
“We have got to find a pragmatic sensible way to end this chaos as quickly as possible.”
When Sir Keir Starmer comes in to conflict with the government over Covid it is usually because he is urging caution, but he is now calling for an earlier relaxation of the rules.
He says ministers have not explained the logic behind the August 16 date, so, by the same token, what is the thinking behind bringing it forward to the August 7, apart from keeping in step with the Labour administration in Wales?
The Labour leader says it is not so much about scientific data as the benefits of vaccination.
But this has left some of his own MPs — as well as many Conservative backbenchers — scratching their heads as to why he is not echoing their call for an immediate change in the rules.
If the “pingdemic” is bad for businesses between the 7th and 16th of the month, surely it is just as damaging now?
He says he is being pragmatic; the Conservatives say he is chasing headlines.
Currently, anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace has to self-isolate for 10 days, unless they are on a list of critical workers.
Anyone “pinged” by the NHS app is advised — but not legally obliged — to quarantine.
Ministers have said the rules will change in England on 16 August, when people who are double-jabbed — as well as unvaccinated
under-18s — will no longer need to self-isolate if they come into contact with a positive case.
Instead they will be encouraged to take a PCR test, though Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said this will not be a legal requirement.
The prime minister said on Wednesday that the 16 August date is “nailed on”.
In an interview with LBC radio, Mr Johnson said: “The most important thing is for people to recognise that the current situation still calls for a lot of caution and for people just to remember that the virus is still out there, a lot of people have got it, it still presents a significant risk.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Waiting until 16 August to introduce an exemption from self-isolation for fully vaccinated contacts gives time for more people to be fully vaccinated”.
“Introducing daily contact testing and the critical worker self-isolation scheme in the meantime for workers in these critical sectors will help to minimise any disruption caused by cases in the coming weeks, while helping ensure staff are not put at risk” the spokesman added.
But businesses and some Conservative MPs have warned that the so-called “pingdemic” is disrupting supply chains with staff forced to stay at home.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested it would be a “good idea” for people to be double-jabbed before returning to the workplace, although the government won’t make it mandatory.
Sir Keir said he “can see a case for vaccine passports alongside testing when it comes to big sporting events or mass events, certainly for international travel” but he does not agree they should be used for day-to-day routine access to the office or to services.
The Liberal Democrats fear the pandemic is causing an infringement of civil liberties.
Party leader Sir Ed Davey is calling for Parliament to be recalled to debate what he called Boris Johnson’s attempt to introduce “Covid ID cards onto the nation’s phones by stealth”,
In a letter to the prime minister, he said: “This goes against all our country’s traditions and is utterly deceitful.” — BBC