SELF-ISOLATION rules could stay in place beyond August 16 if Covid cases start to rise again, a minister suggested today.
Policing minister Kit Malthouse said No 10 will have to remain “agile” even after new infections dropped for the sixth day in a row.
He said a final decision on whether to end quarantine for the double-jabbed will be taken on the advice of scientists.
No 10 has repeatedly insisted that the restrictions will be scrapped on August 16 come what may.
His remarks came as ‘Prof Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson said Britain is now almost at the end of its pandemic nightmare.
Mr Malthouse said the school holidays are acting as a “natural firebreak” against the further spread of the virus.
And he also cited the fact that people are staycationing this year rather than travelling abroad for helping keep cases down.
He said: “It’s quite an interesting cocktail of effects going on. Six days of drop is great but we have to be very careful.
“We have to wait until mid August, see what’s happening on the numbers, hope they continue downwards, and then take the next step.
Let’s all hope the numbers go well. People will be assessing in the week before what the numbers look like and then taking a decision nearer the time.”
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Mr Malthouse said ministers will have to “wait and see” what impact the Freedom Day lifting of restrictions has on cases.
He said: “We’re at this period of anticipation, of looking at what happens because we’ve come out of the restrictions, people are now getting back to normal life.
“There are wiser heads than mine looking at all the data, both in this country and across the world, to assess how we need to move in the future.
“And if we have to be agile, then we’ll have to do that in two or three weeks’ time.
“But for the moment Looking good so far, fingers crossed for August.”
We have to be very careful
Police minister Kit Malthouse
He added: “Agile means obviously you’re having to adapt to the path of the virus.
“Over the last 18 months we’ve learned a lot about the virus, and we’ve seen some oddities of it.
“We’ve seen some parts of the country that have been prone to seeing different variations appear.
“We’ve had to take decisions about particular events or particular scenarios where the virus might have a greater risk of contagion.
“That means moving quickly. That’s caused some confusion, some frustration for people.
“We know two things about as this virus – one it grows very quickly, and two it recedes quite slowly.
“That means we have to move quite quickly and then as we come out, we have to be cautious at the same time.”
Under the PM’s plans from August 16 all double-jabbed Brits will be able to replace mandatory self-isolation with testing.
It is hoped the change will help bring an end to the Pingdemic which has crippled businesses and threatened the nation’s food supplies.
But the communication around it has been a shambles, with ministers and No 10 contradicting each other on whether the date could be pushed back.
The scheme has already been rolled out for some key workers in a bid to keep the economy afloat.
Yesterday No 10 announced a swathe of new roles including prison wardens, bin men, and fishermen were added to the trial.