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Business leaders round on Boris in ‘pingdemic’ row

Business leaders round on Boris in ‘pingdemic’ row: Industry chiefs demand PM ends self-isolation rule ‘tomorrow’ after Wales and Scotland announced early end to restrictions

  • Confederation of British Industry head is latest to call for change in timetable
  • Labour also wants the government’s August 16 deadline brought forward
  • Tony Danker is urging the PM to shift from ‘mass isolation’ to ‘mass testing’ 


Business leaders today piled more pingdemic pressure on Boris Johnson as they called on the Prime Minister to end self-isolation rules ‘tomorrow’.

Tony Danker, head of the Confederation of British Industry, is the latest to demand a change in the government’s timetable for freeing double-jabbed workers from having to stay home when alerted by the Track and Trace app.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday joined calls to bring the August 16 timetable forward to August 7 – pointing out that is what Wales has chosen to do.

Scotland is also due to remove the requirement for the double-jabbed who come into contact with positive cases from August 9 – but the PM has refused to budge despite stricken businesses warning of food shortages.

Now Mr Danker, director general of the UK’s leading business group, has weighed into the debate, urging the PM to shift from ‘mass isolation’ to ‘mass testing’.

Concerns have been raised in recent week over the prospect of the end of free workplace tests, just as many companies are encouraging staff back to the office.

Mr Danker insists maintaining high levels of testing is crucial to preventing another wave of the virus spreading across the UK in the autumn and winter.

Tony Danker, head of the Confederation of British Industry, is the latest to demand a change in the government’s timetable for freeing double-jabbed workers from having to stay home when alerted by the Track and Trace app

Boris Johnson is facing growing pressure to bring forward the current timetable, which will see the rules change on August 16

Boris Johnson is facing growing pressure to bring forward the current timetable, which will see the rules change on August 16

A message to self-isolate displayed on the NHS coronavirus contact tracing app

A message to self-isolate displayed on the NHS coronavirus contact tracing app

He told the Telegraph: ‘There is a high degree of confusion about how the Government’s going to approach September reentry, in a world where one, people are coming back from holidays from different parts of the world; two, people are going back to school; three, most employers are implementing the beginning of their new hybrid or back-to-work strategy; and four, we’re told there might be another wave.

‘We think August needs to be a time where we genuinely bang heads together and talk about an integrated plan and a philosophy for managing the next six to 12 months.’

The so-called ‘pingdemic’ led to 689,313 alerts being sent to users of the NHS Covid-19 app last week telling them they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Some frontline workers are exempt from isolation, including those in prisons, waste collection, defence, the food industry, transport, Border Force and police and fire services. 

Daily negative test results enable those eligible workers who have been alerted by the NHS Covid-19 app or called by NHS Test and Trace as coronavirus contacts to continue working.

But many businesses have been left frustrated by thousands of staff having to isolate, even after having both doses of the vaccine. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps reiterated yesterday that there is no intention of changing the date, although he admitted: ‘We are being, if you like, slightly cautious about it.’ 

Wales’s change will come into effect on the same day the country is expected to move to alert level zero – when most coronavirus restrictions will be lifted.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 or has symptoms must continue to isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status, the Welsh Government has said.

It will also advise those identified as a contact of a positive case to have a PCR test on day two and day eight, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

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