Published: 11:45, 18 July 2021
| Updated: 14:17, 18 July 2021
Kent has reacted to the government's U-turn over an announcement the Prime Minister and Chancellor would not be required to self-isolate despite being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
It was announced this morning that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak would not be following the usual guidance and would instead be taking part in a daily contact testing pilot which would allow them to continue to work from Downing Street.
It followed the disclosure on Saturday that Health Secretary Sajid Javid had been confirmed as testing positive for the virus.
The initial news sparked outrage on social media. But just two hours later, it was announced that the pair would instead be quarantining, and not taking part in the trial after all.
"The Prime Minister has been contacted by NHS Test and Trace to say he is a contact of someone with Covid,” a spokesman said.
“He was at Chequers when contacted by Test and Trace and will remain there to isolate. He will not be taking part in the testing pilot.
“He will continue to conduct meetings with ministers remotely. The Chancellor has also been contacted and will also isolate as required and will not be taking part in the pilot.”
A survey of KentOnline readers, asked if the pair should be following the same rules as the rest of us, overwhelmingly said they should.
Some 93% of more than 1,500 polled agreed they should have to isolate, while just 7% supported the trial.
Harrows Girl tweeted: "Oh, so they are bored of it? Well join the club. If they make the rules then they should stick to them or just say we can all ignore them if we are busy."
MrsMrs said: "We shouldn't be surprised, it's always been one rule for them and the elite and one rule for the rest of us."
Pat Enfield said on Facebook: "The U-turn is even more pathetic than not isolating. They have no direction other than appeasing voters with dangerous decisions."
Stevie Sedge said he hadn't spotted a single mask being worn in Sittingbourne this weekend. He said: "Back in lockdown by September folks. Yes, we should open up, but our leaders should be leading by example."
Matt Finch added: "If ever you wanted an example of "us and them" here it is."
Many pointed out they had missed occasions such as school milestones, holidays, birthdays and vital learning due to having to isolate, despite not having tested positive for the virus themselves.
A huge national backlash came as the so-called "pingdemic", which saw 1.8 million Brits told to stay at home last week by Test and Trace, continued to cause chaos for businesses.
The Times revealed that Marks and Spencer could be forced to reduce its opening hours due to massive disruption to food supplies caused by high numbers of staff self-isolating.
The numbers of affected workers was said to be rising "exponentially".
There are approximately 50,000 new Covid cases being reported every day.
Other supermarkets could also suffer empty shelves, due to industry-wide problems, the report warned, while some ports have up to 10% of staff unable to work, leading to distribution issues.
Yesterday a London tube line was suspended due to a shortage of workers, as transport unions warned of “dire consequences” as the level of infections continues to rise.
The government's U-turn means as the existing Covid restrictions are lifted on so-called Freedom Day tomorrow, three top government ministers will be isolating.
Earlier in the day, Ashford MP Damian Green said he thought the decision for the PM and Chancellor to be able to continue working despite having pinged on NHS Test and Trace was "sensible".
He said: "I welcome the pilot scheme and indeed the analysis of the pilot scheme because this might be a way out of the current problems of people not being able to go to work.
"I think the sooner we get to that the better and clearly daily testing is one way to achieve that so I'd be very keen if we could move to a system where, if you have been in contact with someone but you're showing no symptoms, and as far as you know you haven't got it, then regular testing should replace isolation.
"I think that would be a significant unlocking step and will be very welcome."