Following communication with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has tested positive for coronavirus, the prime minister and chancellor will not be self-isolating.
The couple will take part in a pilot program in which daily exams will replace self-isolation, according to Downing Street.
When they’re not working, they’ll have to self-isolate and only perform important business, according to a spokeswoman.
After a meeting at Downing Street the day before, Mr. Javid tested positive on Saturday morning.
NHS Test and Trace contacted both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak as Mr. Javid’s connections.
Downing Street is one of 20 business and public sector organizations, including Network Rail, Transport for London, and the Border Force, that are taking part in a pilot program in which close relatives of Covid patients are tested on a daily basis.
A testing procedure for asymptomatic people must be in place in the workplace, and participants must self-isolate when not working.
Number ten stated: “They will take part in the daily contact testing trial in order to keep working from Downing Street. During this time, they will only be executing vital government business.”
The number of people self-isolating is continuing to climb ahead of the easing of legal restrictions on social interaction in England on Monday, and employers are concerned about staff shortages as a result of the rising number of people self-isolating.
The NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales sent out more than half a million self-isolation notifications in the first week of July, generating “havoc” on production lines, according to unions.
The decision to exempt the prime minister and chancellor from the regular self-isolation restrictions was criticized by opposition parties.
With politicians having access to “VIP testing,” Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that parents whose children were absent from school or businesses short of staff would assume “it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”
He described lifting practically all legal limits on Monday as “reckless,” comparing it to “throwing your foot down on the pedal while removing your seat belt.”
“How about school teachers, transport employees, and health professionals getting a chance to be part of this test pilot, or is it solely for the wealthy few?” said Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey.
Mild signs and symptoms
On the Andrew Marr Show, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who was filling in for Mr. Javid, said: “The plan is a well-known and long-standing one, it’s not just available for politicians.”
He said that his department was not involved and that “the usual rules would apply to me as you would anticipate.”
Mr. Jenrick stated that the government will terminate self-isolation for complete school bubbles in England on Monday and that fully vaccinated adults will no longer be required to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive beginning August 16th.
He did, however, say that self-isolation is “a crucial aspect of keeping the virus under control,” and that research found that the NHS Covid app had avoided 600,000 infections and 8,000 deaths.
Mr. Javid, who has received both vaccine doses, posted on his Twitter feed on Saturday to say that he had taken a lateral flow test after feeling “a bit groggy” on Friday evening, describing his symptoms as “very mild”.
He later tweeted that the positive result was confirmed by a PCR test.
In addition to the meeting at Downing Street, Mr. Javid had been working from his office at the Department of Health and Social Care in Whitehall last week and was in the Commons chamber three times.
He is also known to have visited a care home in south London on Tuesday.
In November, Mr. Johnson, six Conservative MPs, and two political aides had to self-isolate after an MP at a Downing Street breakfast meeting tested positive for Covid.
There have been warnings that the UK may need to re-impose measures in the autumn, with England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, suggesting a “bumpy winter” could lie ahead.
The NHS suggests people do a lateral flow test twice a week to check if they have the virus.
The Liberal Democrats said that Mr. Javid’s positive test shows that “no one is safe from this deadly virus” and urged the government to reconsider the lifting of measures.
The Metropolitan Line on the London Underground was suspended on Saturday when control room workers were contacted through the NHS Test and Trace app to self-isolate.
The UK recorded 54,674 cases on Saturday – following 51,870 new cases on Friday – as well as 41 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.