Government faces resistance as Boris Johnson to announce 'Living with Covid' plan

The Government is facing mounting resistance to its plans to announce the end of all Covid-19 restrictions in England today, as it was announced that the Queen has tested positive for the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to tell Parliament today that the mandatory instruction to self-isolate after a positive test will end in a move that will “mark a moment of national pride” as the country learns to “live with Covid”.

However, scientists are among those to have shared their concerns about the “odd decision”, while Labour politicians have suggested the move is an attempt to distract from the Prime Minister’s pressures over the ongoing partygate investigation.

Buckingham Palace confirmed yesterday afternoon that the Queen was experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms” having tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the day.

Holly Fox (right) receives a Moderna Omicron COVID-19 booster vaccine in a clinical study at St George's, University of London, (PA)

It is expected that the monarch will still carry out “light duties” this week, although there will inevitably be concerns over her health due to her age of 95 and recent health scares.

Speaking ahead of his announcement today, Mr Johnson said: “Today will mark a moment of pride after one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history as we begin to learn to live with Covid.

“It would not be possible without the efforts of so many – the NHS who delivered the life-saving vaccine rollout at phenomenal speed, our world-leading scientists and experts, and the general public for their commitment to protecting themselves and their loved ones.”

The Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan will outline how Local authorities will be required to manage outbreaks with pre-existing public health powers, as they would with other diseases.

However, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has called for Ministers to publish the scientific evidence being used to influence these decisions, describing the plans as an “attempt to distract from the police knocking” on Boris Johnson’s door.

He said: “Labour doesn’t want to see restrictions in place any longer than they need to be. The Government should publish the evidence behind this decision, so the public can have faith that it is being made in the national interest.

“Now is not the time to start charging for tests or weaken sick pay, when people are still being asked to behave responsibly.”

The British Medical Association’s chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, has said that the need to stay at home if you test positive should only end when case rates are falling.

Dr Nagpaul believed it is “a rather odd decision to make”, and told BBC News: “You have at the moment more people dying, more people in the hospital, than you had before Plan B was introduced.”

It has been suggested that one aspect of the Living with Covid plan may be the end to universal free testing, which a union has described as an “act of madness”.

The TUC’s chairwoman, Frances O’Grady, said: “Free tests must remain in place for all those who need them. This is crucial for workplace and public safety.”

Education unions also warned of chaos in schools unless the Government rows back from the “reckless” decision to scrap all remaining Covid rules in England.

Unison, Unite and the GMB, which represent school support staff, are urging the Prime Minister to keep in place free testing and the requirement to self-isolate.

Latest data has shown a further 74 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 160,581.

There were 25,696 cases reported in the UK on Sunday.