Boris Johnson has declared that August 16 is a “nailed on” date for allowing all double-jabbed people in England to avoid home quarantine even if they come into contact with someone with the virus.
Speaking to LBC, the prime minister also gave another strong signal that Covid vaccine passports will be compulsory for attendance at sports and music events this autumn and not just nightclubs.
The PM refused to endorse cabinet minister Michael Gove’s claim that people who refuse a vaccine a “selfish”, but he stressed that getting vaccinated would be a big help for “things like travel, like mass events”.
Crucially, he said that he would push ahead with plans by mid-August to exempt every adult who is double-jabbed from having to self-isolate if they have had close contacts with positive Covid cases.
Under the plan, all children and all over-18s who are found to have been “pinged” by the NHS Covid app or rung by Test and Trace and identified as a contact could use a series of daily rapid negative tests to allow them to carry out their normal lives.
There had been speculation that ministers would have to review the evidence a week beforehand or that the delays in getting workplace testing sites for critical workers could put back the date.
But Johnson told LBC: “August the 16th is nailed on. There’s never been any question of a review date for August the 16th. We will go ahead with the move.”
With Covid cases falling rapidly over the past week in the UK, Tory MPs who want urgent action on exemptions from quarantine and who oppose Covid passports in principle have been arguing that the country appears to be coming through the worst of the third wave of the pandemic.
Speaking in Glasgow on Tuesday, Gove – who led the review into compulsory Covid certificates – had said: “Ultimately, if you can be vaccinated and you refuse to, that is a selfish act. You’re putting other people’s health and lives at risk, you should get vaccinated.”
Asked if the unvaccinated were being “selfish”, Johnson said: “No, I think that I would put it the other way round and say that if you get one you are doing something massively positive for yourself, for your family.”
Challenged over his plan to require a vaccine certificate to visit nightclubs from the end of September, the PM said: “It’s a very positive thing to do to get a vaccine.
“People can obviously see, when you look at things like travel, like mass events, it’s going to be one of those things that will help you not hinder you.”
Johnson added: “We’ve seen some encouraging recent data, there’s no question about that, but it is far, far too early to draw any general conclusions.”
Meanwhile, ministers look set to announce on Thursday new plans to drop quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated visitors from the EU and US from next week.
The Times reported that research from the World Travel and Tourism Council suggests the economy is losing £639 million a day because of the squeeze on inbound tourism.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been pushing for the new rules amid fears the UK is behind other countries in recognising certification for travellers jabbed overseas.
The move will boost hopes of reciprocal arrangements with other countries recognising UK vaccine ‘passports’, but the United States this week refused to relax its strict bar on visitors from Europe including the UK, amid fears of importing the Delta variant of the virus.