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Johnson: Time is right to move away from ‘state mandation’ on self-isolation

The Prime Minister is expected to repeal all pandemic regulations that restrict public freedoms in England on Monday.

20 February 2022

It is time for the UK to shift the balance away from “state mandation”, the Prime Minister said as he prepares to end the legal requirement for self-isolation.

Boris Johnson is expected to repeal all pandemic regulations that restrict public freedoms in England when he lays out his vision for the future on Monday.

In an interview with Sophie Raworth broadcast on BBC Sunday Morning, he said the Government must now encourage personal responsibility.

“We have reached a stage where we think you can shift the balance away from state mandation, away from banning certain courses of action, and compelling certain courses of action, in favour of encouraging personal responsibility.”

Covid test
Boris Johnson also said Covid testing is currently costing £2 billion a month (PA)

He added that the public should remain cautious, and get vaccinated if they are yet to do so.

“I think it’s very important we should remain careful,” he said.

“We’re certainly not asking people to throw caution to the winds. Covid remains a dangerous disease, particularly if you haven’t been vaccinated.”

Mr Johnson refused to rule out reintroducing restrictions in the face of a new variant in future.

“You’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said the UK cannot continue to spend £2 billion a month on testing.

“I think we need resilience, but we don’t need to keep focused on testing,” he said. “We don’t need to keep spending at a rate of £2 billion a month – which is what we were doing in January.”

The move to end self-isolation requirements for positive Covid cases has been criticised by experts.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the council of the British Medical Association, told BBC News: “I think the right time is when the first leap of faith is supported.

“You have at the moment more people dying, more people in the hospital, than you had before Plan B (restrictions) was introduced.

“It seems a rather odd decision to make. We need to see case rates fall down even more – remembering that people aren’t being restricted at the moment in any severe way at all – people are living normally.

“The second thing is we do need therefore to continue having surveillance, because you won’t know whether you’ve reached that point where the infection rates have come down enough until you’ve had that surveillance.”

In the BBC Sunday Morning interview, Mr Johnson also refused to say what he told police about alleged lockdown parties in Downing Street in a questionnaire.

“As soon as I have something more to say about this matter I will do so, but I can’t give a running commentary of any kind and I wouldn’t be able to do it,” he said.

“As soon as I am able to say something, I assure you, you will be amongst the very first.”

He also refused to answer if he would resign if the police found he had broken lockdown rules.

He added: “I can’t comment about the processes currently under way.”

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