Business Secretary: Self-isolation rules to stay until August 16, despite pingdemic

22 July 2021, 08:46 | Updated: 22 July 2021, 08:51

By Elizabeth Haigh

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was challenged on LBC this morning about the 'pingdemic' and the impact it is having on food supply chains.

Nick Ferrari highlighted the widely reported shelf shortages, asking Mr Kwarteng: "We can’t wait until August the 16th… can we?"

The government plans to maintain self-isolation rules for double vaccinated adults until August 16.

After this date, that those with two vaccinations will be able to test daily if pinged by the app instead of self-isolating.

The increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks has led to widespread staff shortages across the food industry, with Iceland announcing last night that it has closed a number of stores after 4% of its workforce have been pinged.

The NHS app has come under widespread criticism due to the number of people being advised to self-isolate, and the government has already been forced to allow key frontline workers such as NHS staff to avoid self-isolation by doing daily testing instead.

Mr Kwarteng told Nick that No10 was sticking to the August 16 date, admitting that there have indeed been "reports of shortages" but emphasised that the public should continue to "stick to the rules" and wait until the government announces the rule change for double vaccinated adults.

"I think that we can stick to August 16."

Mr Kwarteng said: "We looked at the evidence before. We wanted to lift restrictions on 19 July and there was clear evidence to suggest that that was a good idea.

"But we also wanted to have a precaution in terms of protecting our people. So I think that self-isolation, once you’re pinged, makes complete sense.

"These restrictions aren’t going to last forever."

However, Nick Ferrari challenged the Secretary on this, pointing out that there are still 3 weeks to go, and that he is already seeing "empty shelves from Ealing to Edinburgh."

"There’s no fresh fruit, there’s no chilled products."

Mr Kwarteng said: "Ok. There is evidence that there are shortages, these shortages are not universal."

The Business Secretary argued that despite the shortages, it is still important for the public to self-isolate if pinged by the app.