The Sky News presenter put Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on the spot after Number 10 confirmed Boris Johnson would not self-isolate despite being pinged by the NHS Test&Trace App. Britons have long been required to stay in isolation for at least 10 days after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The Prime Minister is known to have held meetings with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday, the day before Mr Javid announced he had COVID-19.
Mr Phillips told the Housing Secretary: “Can I just ask you this? We just got a statement a few minutes ago about the Prime Minister’s situation.
“It says the Prime Minister and the Chancellor will be participating in the daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue work from Downing Street.
“When the Prime Minister talked about Freedom Day, did he just mean freedom for him and the Chancellor, and other Cabinet colleagues and not for the millions who are supposed to go to work but won’t be having access to that pilot?”
Mr Jenrick insisted the pilot scheme is already available to other organisations and is not limited to Number 10 workers.
JUST IN: Boris Johnson and Rishi contacted by Test and Trace -but will still work at Downing Street
He said: “You’re right to say the Prime Minister and the Chancellor were contacted by NHS Track&Trace overnight, which shows the system is working.
“They’re going to take part in a daily system pilot which is available to a range of organizations, not just politicians.”
A No 10 spokesman said: “They will be conducting only essential government business during this period.”
There will be relief in Downing Street that Mr Johnson will not be confined to home on so-called “freedom day” on Monday when most statutory lockdown restrictions end in England.
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However, the disclosure that the Prime Minister and Chancellor have avoided the requirement to quarantine is likely to anger thousands of people being forced to miss work after being “pinged” by the NHS Covid app.
Businesses have been pressing for the app to be overhauled and made less sensitive amid concerns that staff shortages mean they cannot operate effectively.
London Underground became the latest to succumb on Saturday when the Metropolitan Line was forced to close because of a lack of control room staff.
While most Covid restrictions lift in England on Monday the rules on self-isolating for contacts of people who test positive are not eased until August 16.
Then people who are double-jabbed will be able to take tests rather than quarantine at home.
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