UK Covid live: £500 payment to anyone testing positive being considered, says minister

Good morning everyone. I’ll be leading the blog today. Feel free to drop me a message on Twitter with any coverage suggestions.

Ministers have been responding to the reports first revealed in the Guardian of the government considering paying £500 to everyone in England who tests positive for Covid-19. George Eustice, the environment secretary, was put up for the media rounds this morning, confirming to Sky News that the proposals were being discussed.

Eustice said:

We do need people, if they are asked to self-isolate because they have been contacted through our Test and Trace, we do need them to self-isolate. And, obviously, we always review the reasons why they might not. On the payment, he added: “No decisions have been made on this. But this is a dynamic, fast-moving situation with the pandemic. We are always keeping multiple policies under review.”

The proposed change, said to be the “preferred position” of the Department of Health and Social Care, is understood to be necessary because government polling indicated that just 17% of people with coronavirus symptoms were coming forward to get a test. However, the proposal has attracted criticism, with sources telling PA media that the plan “incentivises people to catch Covid”. The £500 handout scheme would cost up to £453 million per week – 12 times the cost of the current system.

In another interview, Eustice played down the prospect of a full-blown travel ban being introduced to halt the spread of coronavirus across the UK.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

The judgement was for now is that the right thing to do was to require pre-travel testing and quarantine for everyone on arrival, and then for them to be able to exit earlier if they do second test at five day interval.

This could help prevent other variants being imported from abroad, which ministers are desperate to avoid as there are concerns it will pose “challenges to the efficacy of the vaccine.”

Here is the agenda for the day:

09:30: Weekly Covid-19 social impacts survey, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

12:00: Weekly UK Covid-19 infection survey, from the ONS.

12:15: Welsh Government coronavirus press conference. First Minister Mark Drakeford will provide an update on the coronavirus situation in Wales.

14:00: West Midlands Combined Authority coronavirus update webinar. The Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, will host a weekly webinar featuring updates from health officials, and council and policing representatives.

17:00: Boris Johnson to give Downing Street press conference.

To keep up-to-date with Covid coverage from around the world, keep an eye on our global coronavirus live blog:


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