UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is self-isolating after coming into close contact with his Health Minister Sajid Javid, who tested positive for covid-19. Ironically, Britain has dropped all covid-19 restrictions today, meaning anyone in England can go to bars, restaurants, and clubs without any social distancing or mask requirements. The prime minister has called it “Freedom Day.”
Johnson, the conservative clown prince of the UK, had originally planned on working from Downing Street after he was contacted by National Health Service contact tracers, who warned him that he’d been in contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus. But Johnson’s work plan was thrown into doubt after public outcry over the weekend that the prime minister wouldn’t have to self-isolate at home like everyone else.
“It’s as though the prime minister and chancellor have sat down and thought: ‘Our biggest weakness is an angry British public thinking it is one rule for them and a different rule for us. How could we make that even worse? I know...’” Labour politician Stewart Wood said, according to the Guardian.
Johnson immediately backflipped after the outcry, insisting that he had only considered the idea of working from Downing Street, while the broader public is asked to self-isolate after being a close contact of a confirmed case.
Johnson announced on Twitter that he would self-isolate until July 26 at Chequers, the country house of the Prime Minister. Johnson says he’s been “pinged” the slang term that’s developed in the UK to mean that you’ve been warned about being a closed contact of someone with covid-19 by the NHS.
“We looked briefly at taking part in the pilot scheme which allows people to test daily, but I think it’s far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules,” Johnson said in a video message on Twitter.
The UK has seen a surge in covid-19 cases in recent weeks, with over 47,000 cases and 25 deaths on Sunday alone. The country has seen over 5.43 million cases since the pandemic began, with over 129,000 deaths.
The concern is that opening up too quickly, as experts warn the UK is doing, will result in a lot more death and disease. But the prime minister has defended the decision as something that should be done during the summer because there’s bound to be a huge uptick during the winter months when people are indoors more, a place where covid-19 is more likely to spread when compared to the outdoors.
“If we don’t do it now, we’ll be opening up in the autumn, the winter months when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather. We lose the precious firebreak that we get with the school holidays. If we don’t do it now, we’ve got to ask ourselves ‘when will be ever do it?’” Johnson said on Twitter.
“This is the right moment, but we’ve got to do it cautiously,” Johnson added in an addendum that most people are unlikely to pay much attention to as the clubs and bars open up.
“We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there and cases are rising,” Johnson said. “You can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.”
The prime minister went on to say that the UK’s vaccination program had “severely weakened” the link between infection and hospitalization. Over 36 million British people have been full vaccinated, which equals roughly 54% of the eligible population. The U.S., by comparison, has vaccinated over 141 million Americans, roughly 49% of the eligible population
Johnson tested positive for covid-19 in March of 2020, relatively early in the pandemic. The prime minister’s early positive test can likely be blamed on his ignorance of the virus. Johnson even bragged before he tested positive that he’d shaken hands with covid patients at a hospital, something that’s likely to bring you close enough to easily contract the coronavirus.
Johnson often plays the buffoon on TV, but sometimes it’s clearly not an act.