Boris Johnson is due to address MPs about the lifting of the ‘last’ restrictions at 4:30pm. However, there was a glitch this morning as the Cabinet meeting to finalise the plan was delayed because of a reported standoff between Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary. Mr. Javid – a former sceptic who seemed to go native within hours of taking up the post in June – is said to want free testing to continue. The Telegraph has more.
The Treasury and Department of Health have been at loggerheads in recent days over the cost of some of the measures in the Living with Covid Plan, which is due to be announced by the Prime Minister in the Commons this afternoon.
Treasury officials are worried about the continuing cost of free Covid tests, which Boris Johnson has said is costing the country around £2 billion a month.
Mr Sunak has said that any money for testing beyond March must come from the existing health budget.
But Mr Javid thinks testing should continue for more people, for longer, and has requested additional funds from the Treasury to pay for it.
As a former Chancellor and (former) sceptic, Mr. Javid should really know better than to want to drag out the Omnicold ’emergency’ by perpetuating the costly nonsense of constant testing. Let’s hope the sceptical and financially prudent voices win out in the Cabinet meeting that is now underway.
Worth reading in full.
Meanwhile, Sir John Bell – Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford and a member of the expert advisory group to the Vaccine Taskforce – has said it’s time to “step back” from Covid restrictions “and get on with life”. The Telegraph has more.
The time was always going to come for society to “step back” from Covid restrictions “and get on with life”, an Oxford professor has said.
Mandatory, legally enforced quarantine is “probably not necessary” in the face of the more benign Omicron variant, Prof Sir John Bell told BBC Radio 4.
“People on the whole are pretty sensible,” he said. “If they feel that they’re highly symptomatic they’re not going to go in and sit next to somebody at work and spread the disease around.”
“I think we can rely pretty effectively on good behaviour from the population to avoid the spread of disease and even if it does spread we do know it to be mild and we now know that 97% of the population have now got antibodies to this virus.”