Boris Johnson says travel should be simple as possible as Covid app updated to tell fewer people to isolate following 'pingdemic'

Boris Johnson has said he wants to keep international travel as "simple" as "possible” amid speculation that another traffic light category could be created which risks plunging summer holiday planning into chaos.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 4:56 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) during a visit to the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Stevenage, Monday August 2 (PA/Alastair Grant)

The comments came on the same afternoon businesses across England and Wales found out they could also now see fewer staff having to isolate, after the Covid-19 app was updated following weeks of criticism of the so-called ‘pingdemic’.

Over the weekend it was reported that the Government was considering creating an amber watch list category, which it was suggested would warn holidaymakers that the status of their destination - and therefore whether they have to isolate or not on their return home - could change.

Currently, people who go to all amber-list countries apart from France and have had two jabs do not need to isolate. Those who have been to France must isolate at home, and anybody returning from a red-list country must pay £1,750 to complete ten days mandatory quarantine in a hotel.

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Speaking on a visit to Hertfordshire on Monday, Mr Johnson said officials have to take “a balanced approach”.

When asked about the idea of the new classification, he told reporters: “I understand that people care very much about their holidays, people want to go abroad, I understand how much people plan, prepare, for the summer holidays.

“But we have also got to remember this is still a dangerous virus and we must try and stop variants coming in, must stop importing variants from abroad, so we have to have a balanced approach.

“What I want to see is something that is as simple and as user-friendly for people as possible.”

Shortly after the Prime Minister had spoken, an announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that the Covid-19 app had been updated so that fewer close contacts of a confirmed case are now likely to be told to stay home.

The “logic” of the programme has been tweaked so that now people will only be pinged if they have been in close contact with an asymptomatic case in the two days before their positive test, rather than the previous five day window.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government wants to “reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses while ensuring we’re protecting those most at risk from this virus”.

He said in a statement: “This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.

“It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities.”

The news comes as coronavirus cases continue to drop across the UK continue to drop with another 21,952 added to the daily dashboard on Monday.

Another 24 people were also confirmed to have died within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test result.