Downing Street has urged people to isolate if they are “pinged” by the NHS app, after business minister Paul Scully suggested individuals and employers could choose to ignore the instructions.
Number 10 said employers “should not be encouraging” workers to ignore isolation warnings, even though the app’s instructions are not legally enforceable, unlike contact from NHS Test and Trace which is a legal requirement.
The comments come amid a furious backlash from Conservative MPs over the use of the app which they claim is crippling businesses. The latest figures released by the NHS show more than half a million people were contacted and told to self-isolate between 1 July and 7 luglio, the highest weekly figure since the app launched
Di lunedi Boris Johnson said that critical workers would be exempt, and would be allowed to use regular testing instead provided they are fully vaccinated, with full details expected later on Tuesday.
In comments likely to sow more public concern over the use of the app, Scully told Times Radio: “It’s important to understand the rules. You have to legally isolate if you are … contacted by test and trace, or if you’re trying to claim isolation payments.”
But he said there was a different legal basis to the app which he said was “to allow you to make informed decisions”. Ha aggiunto: “And I think by backing out of mandating a lot of things, we’re encouraging people to really get the data in their own hands to be able to make decisions on what’s best for them, whether they’re employer or an employee.”
Scully said people should still use the app to check into venues, which he said had saved an estimated 8,000 vite. “So it’s a really useful tool in our armoury alongside the vaccination programme, but obviously it’s up to individuals and employers," Egli ha detto.
“I know how frustrating this is, I had to self-isolate last week myself for over a week, and I know how incredibly mind-numbing it is as well as the impact on the economy and the impact on people’s mental health. So I totally get the frustration.”
A No 10 spokesperson said: “Isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus. Given the risk of having and spreading the virus when people have been in contact with someone with Covid it is crucial people isolate when they are told to do so, either by NHS Test and Trace or by the NHS Covid app.
“Businesses should be supporting employees to isolate, they should not be encouraging them to break isolation.”
Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “The government is making it up as they go along. Ministers mix messages, change approach and water down proposals when the public and businesses need clarity and certainty.
“If this is a true change in approach on the app, why didn’t the prime minister set this out last night? Yet again there is more confusion and incompetence from the heart of government at the expense of public health. They need to get a grip.”
Ministers have shelved proposals to urgently overhaul the contact tracing app to make it less sensitive to contact with potential positive cases.
Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, are both currently isolating after the health secretary, Sajid Javid, tested positive for coronavirus. The pair have a legal duty to isolate because they were contacted by the official test-and-trace service.