Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid, but they will not self-isolate.
The announcement follows the disclosure on Saturday that Health Secretary Sajid Javid had been confirmed as testing positive for the virus.
Both the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak will be participating in a daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street, No 10 has said.
A number 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister and chancellor have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace as contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID,” said a Number 10 spokesman.
“They will be participating in the daily contact testing pilot to allow them to continue to work from Downing Street.
“They will be conducting only essential government business during this period.”
It comes after the UK Health Secretary, Sajid Javid announced late on Saturday a full PCR test had confirmed the result of an earlier rapid lateral flow test that he has contracted the virus.
The Prime Minister is reported to have had a lengthy meeting with Mr Javid at No 10 on Friday.
The disclosure that the Prime Minister and Chancellor have avoided the requirement to quarantine is likely to anger thousands of people being forced to miss work after being “pinged” by the NHS Covid app.
Businesses have been pressing for the app to be overhauled and made less sensitive amid concerns that staff shortages mean they cannot operate effectively.
London Underground became the latest to succumb on Saturday when the Metropolitan Line was forced to close because of a lack of control room staff.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said members of the public who are pinged should still self-isolate.
He said the test-and-release pilot being used by Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak was being trialled by about 20 public sector organisations including Border Force and Transport for London.
He said the two minsters would be tested at a special testing centre which has been set up in Downing Street.
.@TrevorPTweets: When the PM talked about ‘Freedom Day’ did he just mean for him and the chancellor?@RobertJenrick says Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are taking part in a pilot so they can continue to work, but will not be able to socialise.#Phillips: https://t.co/FOweo3lxzQ pic.twitter.com/VLas70W5hW
— Trevor Phillips on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) July 18, 2021
“It is correct that the Cabinet Office and Downing Street are part of the pilot. I am not aware that other (government) departments are,” Mr Jenrick told Sky News.
“It means that you can be tested every day in specialist asymptomatic testing centres such at the one that has been set up in Downing Street.
“It means that the Chancellor and the Prime Minister will be able to conduct the most essential Government meetings but the rest of their time will have to be spent isolating and not meeting up with family or friends or socialising. So it is relatively restrictive.
“I entirely appreciate that this isn’t available yet to wider members of the public and the frustration that they might feel listening to this.
“Other members of the public who are pinged will have to self-isolate in the usual way and that is a really important part of our plan to keep Covid under control.”
Dr Ellie Cannon, an NHS GP and Mail on Sunday columnist, has criticised the Government after it was announced that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak do not have to isolate after coming into contact with Sajid Javid, after he tested positive for Covid-19.
She wrote on Twitter: “There have been low points in this pandemic. And then there have been lower points.
“Perhaps the lowest point for me was watching the funeral prayers of an acquaintance who died in particularly difficult circumstances…
“Their own child, mourning their parent’s sudden death, was not allowed in the place of worship with family because they were contact isolating from school.
“No-one found special pilot schemes for them.”