Freedom Day 'a complete fallacy’ without changes to self isolation rules

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Freedom Day 'a complete fallacy’ without changes to self isolation rules for hospitality

Related tags: isolation, Freedom Day, Coronavirus, lockdown

The end of Covid restrictions on 19 July has been dismissed as 'a complete fallacy' unless self isolation rules currently forcing hundreds of hospitality businesses to close are changed.

In a Tweet​ directed at Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Inception Group co-founder Charlie Gilkes warned that the predicted rise in cases caused by the easing of most social contact measures could leave businesses 'fully locked down again'.

Almost all remaining Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted on 19 July​ (dubbed 'Freedom Day') when England moves to the last phase of its lockdown roadmap. Guardian​ analysis​ predicts that two million people could contract Covid this summer, potentially forcing up to 10 million to isolate.

Gilkes said three Inception sites have had to shut because current self isolation rules, which force close contacts of a positive Coronavirus case to quarantine for 10 days, meant the group did not have the staff to operate them. 

“If cases quadruple we’re likely to be fully locked down again," he said.

Earlier this week, Javid announced that fully vaccinated people in England will not have to self isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid, but only from 16 August​; a decision that trade body UKHospitality said 'doesn’t go far enough, quickly enough'.

Gilkes added: "The great reopening on 19 July is a complete fallacy without a change in [test and trace] rules before 16 August.” 

There have already been warnings that hospitality could face a lockdown 'in all but name'​ as more and more businesses close because of staff being 'pinged' by the NHS app.

Chris Soley, chief executive of Camerons Brewery, has called for a new system.

He wrote on Twitter​: “Covid absence is a massive issue in many workplaces and schools We need a system to allow low risk negative testing people to go about their lives to avoid things grinding to a halt.”

UKHospitality has called on the Government to introduce a ‘test to remain’ system for vaccinated staff to hospitality​, and also lobbied to allow hospitality businesses to operate a 'test to release' scheme, whereby staff who were self isolating could return to work if they had a negative test result.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Introducing a test to release system for fully vaccinated people from the middle of next month not only fails to recognise the carnage the current system is causing hospitality and the wider economy, but also significantly discriminates against a huge proportion of our workforce.

"Around 60% of our staff are aged between 15-34 and the vast majority will not have had the opportunity to receive both jabs by the 16 August.

“With cases predicted to continue to rise, this means that hospitality’s recovery after 16 months of lockdown and severely disrupted trading will be harmed.

"Operators will be forced into reducing their operating hours or closing venues completely.

"We urge the Government to move quicker on this issue to prevent the summer being cancelled and vast swathes of the population unnecessarily confined to their homes."

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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