Chris Whitty has backed ‘freedom day’ going ahead on July 19 as he told the Cabinet it should aim to ‘get as much open this summer as possible before winter’.
The Chief Medical Officer reportedly signalled his support for lifting the remaining coronavirus curbs next month as he briefed Cabinet ministers on Monday.
Mr Whitty said the winter period is likely to be ‘much more difficult’ but sources claimed he had been ‘cautiously optimistic’.
The scientist’s backing for easing restrictions represents a massive boost to Boris Johnson ahead of the final stage in his lockdown exit roadmap and comes after ministers have struck a significantly more bullish tone in recent days on reopening.
Senior Government figures have stressed that the nation must now learn to live with coronavirus amid growing hopes of a return to something close to normal life.
Those hopes have further increased after it was revealed that ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after July 19.
Meanwhile, it has been claimed that fully-vaccinated Brits will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days after contact with a positive Covid case, with the quarantine requirement replaced with daily testing.
And in a third piece of good news, school ‘bubbles’ are to be scrapped in a bid to stop a surge in Covid-related pupil absences.
However, that change is not due to come into force until the start of the next school year in September.
Chris Whitty has backed ‘freedom day’ going ahead on July 19 after it emerged he told the Cabinet it should aim to ‘get as much open this summer as possible before winter’
Fully-vaccinated Brits will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days after contact with a positive Covid case after freedom day, with the quarantine requirement replaced with daily testing
Boris Johnson is planning to scrap school ‘bubbles’ in a bid to stop a surge in Covid-related pupil absences
Ministers are also set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after July 19
People with two jabs ‘won’t have to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with Covid sufferers from July 19’
People who are fully vaccinated won’t have to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with Covid sufferers from July 19, reports claim.
Under current Covid rules, those alerted by Test and Trace that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus must self-isolate for 10 days.
However, Downing Street is reportedly hoping to overhaul this measure and instead require those with two jabs to take lateral flow tests each day for the same period.
This follows a successful pilot scheme which has been in place since April, the Sun reported.
From July 19 – the long-awaited ‘Freedom Day’ – those who test negative during the 10 days will reportedly be able to leave the house.
Mr Whitty told a Cabinet briefing at the start of the week that the Government is on course to press ahead with lifting the remaining coronavirus restrictions on July 19, according to The Times.
Coronavirus case numbers continue to rise, but there has not been a corresponding leap in hospitalisations, prompting growing optimism that vaccinations have broken the link between infections and serious illness, paving the way for life to get back to normal.
A Cabinet source told the newspaper: ‘The view among the scientists was that we should get as much open this summer as possible before winter, which will be much more difficult. It was very encouraging.’
Another source said that the Chief Medical Officer had been ‘cautiously optimistic’.
It comes after a number of ministers have said the country will have to learn to live with the virus in the coming months and years in a marked change in Government tone.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman yesterday compared the strategy to living with the flu which killed 22,000 people in England in 2017-18.
The spokesman told reporters: ‘Cabinet agreed that once we have completed the road map, we will be able to live with Covid in the future even if cases continue to rise, thanks to the protections provided by the vaccine.’
The change in Government tone has coincided with the appointment of Sajid Javid as Health Secretary as he replaced Matt Hancock following his resignation at the weekend.
Mr Javid is known to be more hawkish that his predecessor on the matter of lockdowns and restrictions and he said earlier this week that July 19 will be the ‘end of the line’ for curbs.
Statistics published yesterday showed there had been a fuether 20,479 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.
The Government said a further 23 people had died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 128,126.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
The easing of lockdown rules next month will include changing self-isolation rules for people who are fully-vaccinated, according to The Sun.
Double-jabbed Brits will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days if they are pinged by NHS Test and Trace as a contact of a positive case.
Instead they will be asked to take daily lateral flow tests, providing a result in 20 minutes, with a negative test allowing them to leave the house.
The Government has been running a pilot since April replacing quarantine with testing and ministers are now expected to rollout the policy across the nation.
Meanwhile, Covid passports will not be compulsory at music festivals, sports events and other mass gatherings when lockdown restrictions are lifted next month.
Ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after ‘freedom day’.
Plans for pubs and restaurants had already been put on the backburner following a backlash from MPs and the hospitality sector.
It has now been revealed that ministers have also dropped the idea of imposing them on mass events.
Organisers will, however, be permitted to run their own schemes, with the Premier League among those expected to introduce some form of certification to prove those attending football grounds do not pose a Covid risk.
Separately, the Government has all but confirmed that school ‘bubbles’ will be scrapped from September, with pupils tested daily instead.
The bubbles policy has faced fierce criticism in recent days because it requires pupils to self-isolate if one of their peers tests positives for Covid-19.
That has caused entire year groups to have to miss lessons, causing massive disruption to the school year.
Statistics published yesterday showed the number of children away from school has quadrupled in a month.
Last Thursday more than 375,000 – or one in 20 – was at home because of the virus.
The vast majority were isolating because they were part of a bubble with an infected classmate.
Last night ministers said they would look at scrapping the current rules in time for the autumn term.
They are examining plans to abandon or water down the bubble system and replace it with a system of daily testing so pupils don’t have to isolate unless they are positive.
With the number of absences spiralling every week, some critics believe the Government should act now.
But with just three weeks left of the school year, and with the final stage of unlocking not due before July 19, the changes are unlikely to be enacted until the autumn.
However, teachers are set to revolt over the plans, with unions describing the prospect of on-site testing centres as ‘something akin to field hospitals’.
In further good news, the UK’s NHS vaccination app is reportedly ready to be integrated with the EU’s version in a move which would pave the way for easier travel to Europe.
The app shows vaccination status, test status and whether someone has tested positive in the past 180 days.
Britain and Brussels are currently in discussions focused on mutually recognising each other’s apps.
Should the NHS app be fully recognised on the continent alongside the EU’s ‘green pass’ it should open up more quarantine-free holiday destinations for Brits.
A senior industry source told The Telegraph: ‘We are technically ready to be integrated into the EU database that will recognise your digital NHS signature and allow you to demonstrate your Covid status.
‘There are some glitches with private test providers struggling to register their tests quickly enough but once those are resolved, all that is required is for the EU to allow non-EU countries to be integrated.’