More than 2 million people who are under orders to stay home and be fully “shielded” will be told they can stop isolating at the end of next month, it has emerged.
After being forced to “cocoon” themselves at home since the beginning of lockdown, members of the public classed as extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 are reportedly to be released from self-isolation at the end of July.
Whilst Downing Street insisted that no final decision had been made, other Government sources said reports that the policy will be relaxed in July were accurate.
Separately, senior Cabinet members indicated that two other major lockdown relaxations – cutting the two-metre social distancing rule and the creation of air bridges for British holidaymakers – were expected to be finalised by the “end of next week”.
Speaking to The Telegraph, a senior minister said a Downing Street review of the two-metre rule was likely to make its recommendations by next Friday, with Boris Johnson on Tuesday telling MPs to “watch this space”.
Mr Johnson also suggested he would raise the idea of an air bridge with France when he met Emmanuel Macron later this week, with Department for Transport officials now hopeful an initial list of deals with “low-risk” countries will be ready by the time a review of the quarantine policy is completed on June 29.
According to the Health Service Journal, food parcels and medicine deliveries will cease from August when members of the public who are shielding are released from the measures.
However, they will still retain priority for online food deliveries and will remain on a Government list in case they are asked to shield again if a second wave of the virus hits next winter.
Approached for comment, a Government spokesman said: “We are considering the next steps for the shielding programme beyond the end of June, based on the latest medical and scientific advice.
“No final decision has yet been made and we will set out more detail shortly.”
It came as senior Conservative MPs continued to ratchet up pressure on Mr Johnson to cut the two-metre rule, with Greg Clark, the former business secretary, calling for any change to be implemented before the next wave of businesses are permitted to reopen on July 4.
“The next milestone is clearly July 4, when hospitality is due to open,” he told The Telegraph. “There is quite a lot of preparation that needs to go into making premises ready.
“You need at least a week’s notice on this. That takes you up to the end of next week. A minimum of a week’s notice is required, and even that is tight.”
Asked about the review on Tuesday, Mr Johnson told the daily Downing Street press conference: “We are keeping it under constant review and as we depress the numbers, as we reduce the incidents, I think we’ll also have a strong case for reviewing those measures as well.
“We’re getting there… I know people are very impatient about this, we’re making as much progress on that as we can. Watch this space, because we absolutely hear you.”
On air bridges, he added: “Obviously I will be talking to Emmanuel Macron about all sorts of ways in which we can bring our countries together, making sure that eventually we will be able to travel freely to and from each other’s countries. The same goes obviously for Spain, as soon as we can.”