New Covid rules on self-isolation have been enshrined in law until March, as Tory MPs warned the Prime Minister that restricting freedoms was a path “towards hell”.
The new regulations force people to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone who has the new variant or risk a fine of up to £10,000 – even if they are fully vaccinated.
The measure will not expire until March 24, under legislation passed by the Commons yesterday; it was passed by 431 votes to 36.
Among the Tory rebels were Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Steve Baker, the deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group, and the former cabinet minister Esther McVey. They were joined by three DUP MPs.
They claimed the move heralded a new “pingdemic” and heavily restricted people’s freedoms.
Boris Johnson insisted he had already put in place a package of “balanced and proportionate measures” in response to the threat posed by the new variant as cases of Omicron reached 22 in the UK.
This included mandatory face wearing in shops and on public transport came into force in England on Tuesday, along with tighter testing requirements for international travel.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
The measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible, and will buy us time in the face of this new variant. Based on everything we know, our vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted. Not only will today’s steps help us slow down the variant’s spread, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we have all worked so hard for.
More to follow