PMQs: Millions could be told to isolate each week after 'Freedom Day', Starmer warns PM

7 July 2021, 12:55

Sir Keir Starmer warned of millions having to isolate each week
Sir Keir Starmer warned of millions having to isolate each week. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Millions of people face being told to self-isolate if new Covid cases climb to 100,000 a day over the summer, Sir Keir Starmer has warned Boris Johnson.

He said people were turning away from the NHS app for fear of being pinged as cases rise following the relaxation of England's lockdown rules, which is slated for July 19.

Sir Keir quoted newspaper estimates that between 2 million and 3.5 million a week could be told to quarantine if the daily case rates get into six figures.

He warned this will affect people's freedoms and businesses will struggle with staff – while Mr Johnson insisted isolation has protected the country and is being replaced by testing.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Sir Keir said: "Now he's ignoring the next big problem that's heading down the track and going to affect millions of people who have to self isolate.

"It won't feel like Freedom Day to those who have to isolate when they're having to cancel their holidays, when they can't go to the pub, or even to their kid's sports day, and it won't feel like Freedom Day, Prime Minister, to the businesses who are already warning of carnage, because of the loss of staff and customers.

Read more: Close contact self-isolation scrapped for the fully vaccinated - but not until August

Read more: New Covid self-isolation rules: When do they come into effect and who do they apply to?

PM says self-isolation “one of the key protections this country has”

"It must be obvious, with case rates that high, his plan risks undermining the track and trace system that he spent billions and billions of pounds on.

"Prime Minister, there are already too many stories of people deleting the NHS app, he must have seen those stories. And they're doing it because they can see what is coming down the track."

He asked the PM what he would do to stop the app being deleted because "they can see precisely what he can't see, which is millions of them are going to be pinged this summer to self isolate".

Mr Johnson said the self-isolation requirement will continue "as long as that is necessary".

Read more: Fully-vaccinated holidaymakers could avoid quarantine after July 19 'Freedom Day'

"But, of course, what we're also doing is moving to a system of testing rather than self-isolation, and we can do that because of the massive rollout of the vaccine."

The Government has already announced this week that, after August 16, people who have received both doses of the vaccine will not need to isolate if they come into contact with a Covid case.

That applies from two weeks after their second dose. Instead, they will be asked to take a test and only isolate if it comes back positive.

Children aged under 18 will also no longer need to isolate if they come into contact with a case, unless they test positive.