Self-isolation rules to be relaxed for double-jabbed key workers, Boris Johnson announces

Key workers who have had two Covid vaccines will be able to avoid self-isolation to go to work, the Prime Minister announced yesterday, after industry called for an end to the ‘pingdemic’ that was forcing staff into isolation and businesses to close.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears on a screen from Chequers, the country house of the serving UK Prime Minister, where he is self-isolating, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van Tam (Alberto Pezzali/PA)

Speaking on ‘freedom day’ the Prime Minister told the public that restrictions will be loosened for a “very small number” of critical workers, such as those involved in transport and defence. Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that jabs will be offered to children and teenagers vulnerable to the disease.

Leading a press conference virtually from his Buckinghamshire Chequers residence - having been told to isolate following Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s positive test, - Boris Johnson said: “I want to assure you that we will protect crucial services – including the staffing of our hospitals and care homes, the supplies of food, water, electricity and medicines, the running of our trains, the protection of our borders, the defence of our realm – by making sure that a small number, a very small number, of named, fully-vaccinated critical workers are able to leave their isolation solely for the work that I have described.”

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Speaking in the Commons, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi gave more details on the incoming exemption for self-isolations, which already covers frontline NHS staff and social care workers.

Mr Zahawi said the change would cover the police, air traffic controllers and train signallers, and other “circumstances where there would be a serious risk of harm to public welfare if people in critical roles are unable to go to their workplace”.

Striking a more cautious tone than before about his hopes that the roadmap out of lockdown would be “irreversible”, Mr Johnson also warned of concern about the “continuing risk posed by nightclubs” and said that two jabs will be needed to enter from the autumn.

There were scenes of revelry across the country in the early hours of Monday, as clubbers packed dancefloors for the first time in more than a year.

“I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere, but it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS Covid pass,” Mr Johnson said.

“I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.”

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned clubs had the potential to cause “super spreading events” and while Mr Johnson said that “I certainly don’t want to see passports for pubs” he declined to rule out the possibility of introducing them.

The press conference from Downing Street came minutes after Mr Zahawi confirmed that the Pfizer jab will be offered to vulnerable young people.

Most children will not be offered the injections, but those aged between 12 and 15 with severe neuro-disabilities, severe learning disabilities, Downs Syndrome or those who are immunosuppressed will be offered Pfizer jabs, as well as those aged 12 - 17 who live with immunosuppressed people.

Seventeen-year-olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday will also be offered a vaccination.