Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, is currently in full home quarantine after he came into contact with a minister infected by the corona virus. Initial announcements by the government stated that this was unnecessary because the Prime Minister would take part in a pilot program, and would be tested every day. This caused a storm of controversy.
The government quickly reversed its position. According to ITV, Johnson’s spokesperson stated that Johnson would not be participating in the pilot program after all. This was less than three hours after Johnson made the announcement. The prime minister will be able to stay at his Checkers country home and will meet electronically with his cabinet members.
Rishi Sunak (Finance Minister) also decided to withdraw from the pilot program. He is now in home quarantine. He said on Twitter that he was trying to stop people feeling like the rules don’t apply to everyone.
Johnson and Sunak became involved in the contact investigation after Sajid Javid, Health Minister, was tested positive for coronavirus. Daily corona testing would be an option to a full 10-day home quarantine as part of the pilot. Johnson and his minister could then work from home and be isolated outside of working hours.
BBC reports that around twenty organizations are involved in the pilot project. These include Network Rail’s rail manager and Border Force’s border security service. The Telegraph newspaper reported last week that Michael Gove, Cabinet Affairs Minister, used the pilot program to stay at home.
According to the newspaper’s report, parliamentarians have compared the project to Monopoly’s “get out jail free” card. Sources within government stressed that participating government departments employed people essential to the country’s governance during the pandemic.
Johnson’s news that he could escape his quarantine in his home through the pilot had angered the opposition. Jo Stevens, a leading left-wing Labor Party politician, said that the project is not open for “low-income persons” who can’t afford to be away from work. She lamented that the conservative government seems to have different rules from the rest of society.
Sky News reports that around half a million people were warned by an official health app within a week of coming into contact with infected persons. They are asked to enter home quarantine. According to the channel companies fear this could cause staff shortages, particularly as corona infections are on the rise.
Johnson, 57, was infected by the corona virus last January. He was admitted to intensive medical care. He is now fully vaccinated. The Prime Minister was vaccinated with the second AstraZeneca vaccine dose last month.