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Minister Says "Employers And Employees" Will Decide If Someone Works With Covid When Isolation Rules End

Covid rules are set to be dropped later this week

3 min read

Small business minister Paul Scully has placed an emphasis on individual choice when it comes to isolating with Covid as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to announce the end of remaining restrictions in England.

Johnson is set to meet his Cabinet on Monday morning before confirming new rules – believed to include an end to the legal requirement to isolate with Covid, and free testing –  to MPs in a Commons statement later today.

Speaking on Monday, small business minister Paul Scully said it was "important we don't work and live under government diktat for a moment longer than is necessary to allow the economy to recover, to allow people to get back to a sense of normality while keeping people safe".

Scully also suggested that self-isolation rules could become a matter for employers once the legal requirement to stay at home is dropped.

"That decision will be taken later on so we will see the guidance around that, but there will be a point where this is falling away, so it will come back to employers and employees to make that decision for themselves," he told Sky News.

It has been argued that Covid should be treated more like other infectious diseases such as flu and stomach bugs, where people would be likely to take time off work. 

"That's what we've got to get back to, but it's a fine balance clearly," Scully added. 

The government's plans to drop the remaining Covid restrictions come as hospitalisation figures continue to steadily decrease, with ministers praising the effective vaccine roll out for getting the severity of the virus under control.

Speaking ahead of the planned announcement, Johnson said England was now in a "strong position" to move from "government intervention towards personal responsibility".

He added: "The pandemic is not over but thanks to the incredible vaccine rollout we are now one step closer towards a return to normality and finally giving people back their freedoms while continuing to protect ourselves and others."

But the plans have been criticised by some health officials, with Dr Chaand Nagpaul of the British Medical Association, saying it was a "premature" move.

"It clearly hasn't been guided by data or done in consultation with the healthcare profession," he said.

Union leaders have also questioned the government's decision, saying the removal of isolation payments would likely force people who contract the disease to go to work, or risk losing their income.

Speaking to PoliticsHome, Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train driver's union, said: "The virus hasn’t gone away and people are still dying. That’s why this rush seems, to us, to be a decision taken based not on the science, but on the politics of a Prime Minister in trouble." 

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