‘We need to learn to live well with Covid’ – Boris Johnson slammed over plans to end self-isolation and universal free testing

Boris Johnson has “once again prioritised himself” over the public after he announced the end of a raft of anti-Covid measures by South Shields’s MP.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 12:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 12:08 pm
(left to right) Chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, to outline the Government's new long-term Covid-19 plan. Picture date: Monday February 21, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus . Photo credit should read: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire
(left to right) Chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, to outline the Government's new long-term Covid-19 plan. Picture date: Monday February 21, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus . Photo credit should read: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire

Universal free testing for coronavirus is also set to be drastically scaled back from April.

But the move has prompted opposition anger, with critics branding it another attempt to divert attention away from scandals such as the ongoing police investigation into claims of lock-down busting parties in Downing Street.

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Emma Lewell-Buck. Picture by FRANK REID

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“Since the first lockdown almost two years ago, the lives of people in our country have been dictated by the laws regarding coronavirus,” said Emma Lewell-Buck, who has represented the town in the House of Commons since 2013.

“This virus will be with us for the long haul, as a society we need to learn to live well with Covid.

“Restrictions needed to end at some point, but only once there were clear guidelines and plans in place to protect and allow those who are clinically vulnerable to also live safely.

“Instead the Prime Minister has once again prioritised himself, fending off a no confidence vote from his backbenchers by giving them what they wanted.

“Scrapping free tests, isolation payments and woeful levels of sick pay will create a situation where those key workers who have never stopped throughout the pandemic are financially penalised for behaving responsibly.”

Under the proposals unveiled by Johnson, which are yet to be formally approved by Parliament, those who test positive for Covid-19 will still be advised to stay at home for at least five days, but will not be obliged to under law.

Changes to sick pay rules and employment support introduced to help workers through earlier stages of the pandemic are expected to end on March 24.

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