Boris Johnson U-turn: Seven times the Govt reversed its Covid decisions

18 July 2021, 19:54 | Updated: 18 July 2021, 22:45

Boris Johnson came under fire ahead of his U-turn on Sunday
Boris Johnson came under fire ahead of his U-turn on Sunday. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A rapid U-turn has seen Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak self-isolate after it looked like they would dodge having to quarantine.

News initially emerged on Sunday that they would instead be tested for Covid every day as part of a scheme, rather than have to isolate like many across the country.

They were close contacts of Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for Covid.

It is the latest reversal of a Government announcement or decision, which has happened throughout the pandemic.

Ministers have said they are willing to change course when the science suggests they should, while critics have attacked the Government for haphazard and sometimes confusing policies.

Sunday's U-turn has been heavily criticised – here are other key decisions the Government has reversed during the Covid pandemic, from Christmas being cancelled to face coverings.

Read more: PM admits he 'briefly' considered not self-isolating but now will until 26 July

Read more: Johnson and Sunak will now self-isolate after U-turning on daily Covid testing pilot

Community testing

The NHS said a "significant expansion" of Covid testing was under way, establishing a target of 10,000 tests a day.

But the next day, Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said only those at hospitals will be formally tested.

Test were eventually run on essential workers and their households from the end of April while everybody aged over five and displaying systems would get them from the middle of May.

Face coverings imposed for public transport and shop trips

The Government previously refused to enforce face coverings with experts warning they could give a false sense of security amid social distancing guidance.

There were also worries they could be used wrongly and that could contribute to Covid's spread.

In England, it eventually became mandatory on public transport in June last year and, following weeks of mixed messaging, they were required inside shops during July.

Face masks needed in schools

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said face coverings were not needed in schools.

In late August, Downing Street also said there were no plans to review the guidance – but a day later Mr Williamson announced they would be needed in secondary school communal areas in parts of England that were under local lockdown.

Stay at home remains after employees urged back to the office

Boris Johnson urged staff to go back to their place of work after businesses faced serious struggles without commuters supporting them.

However, on September 22, the advice to go back was dropped after Covid cases rose.

Tiers system dropped in favour of national lockdown

The Government introduced tiers with differing levels of restrictions to try and control Covid without resorting to another national lockdown.

However, the PM ended up announcing a second lockdown anyway, scheduled to last a month, on October 31 after the system failed to stop Covid cases rising.

Christmas is cancelled

Boris Johnson ended festive plans for millions after south-east England was put into a brand new Tier Four.

The areas spent two weeks over Christmas and New Year under rules similar to November's lockdown.

A bubble policy, allowing people to see others during the festive period, was reduced in scope to only include Christmas Day for those living elsewhere.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak nearly dodge self-isolation

Fury erupted at the latest Covid U-turn from the Government.

On Sunday, it was announced the Prime Minister and Chancellor would not need to isolate after becoming a close contact of Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who is isolating after testing positive for Covid.

This could have been achieved by taking part in a testing scheme which replaces the need to shut themselves away.

But three hours later, it was announced they would both self-isolate instead, with Mr Johnson claiming using the scheme had "briefly" been contemplated.