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Rule changes to end pingdemic ‘nailed on’ for 16 August, says Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson has promised his government will stick with planned changes to self-isolation rules to free fully-vaccinated Britons from quarantine from 16 August.

People with two jabs will able to escape self-isolation if they come into contact with a positive Covid case from mid-August – with the prime minister claiming the timetable was “nailed on”.

Mr Johnson told LBC on Wednesday: “August 16 is nailed on – there has never been any question of a review date for August 16.”

Despite the prime minister’s comments, policing minister Kit Malthouse said on Tuesday that ministers would have to wait to “see what’s happening on the numbers” before making a decision on self-isolation rules.

And last week business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said no final decision would be taken until a week before the 16 August date – saying he had his “fingers crossed” rules would change to ease the “pingdemic”.

The prime minister also warned the public not to get carried away by a week of falling Covid case numbers, after data showed infections in the UK fell for a seventh day in a row.

“We’ve seen some encouraging data but it is far, far too early to draw any conclusions,” he told LBC. “The virus is still out there, people have got – it still presents a significant risk.”

He added: “I’m very pleased that this is a country that now has the highest proportion of vaccinated adults of any country in the world – that is enabling us to make the economic progress we are.”

He also claimed the UK could be in store for a “very strong” economic recovery from coronavirus as long it takes a cautious approach towards returning to pre-pandemic behaviours.

“You’re seeing the job numbers increasing and I think the rest of this year there will still be bumps on the road – but I think you’ll see a story of steady economic recovery.”

Mr Johnson rejected Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove’s claim that people who refuse to get a vaccine are “selfish”.

Asked if they were “selfish’”, the prime minister told LBC: “No. I think that I would put it the other way round and say that if you get one you are doing something massively positive for yourself, for your family.”

The prime minister refused to say whether the government would press ahead with plans for mandatory Covid passports, following a backlash from Tory MPs over compulsory certification.

The prime minister also attempted to smooth over a row about the possibility of mandatory vaccination for university students, amid accusations he was blaming them for the relatively low vaccine take-up rates among young people.

Mr Johnson also said the number of young people coming forward was “quite stupendous”, pointing to figures showing that around 70 per cent now of 18 to 20 year-olds have come forward to get jabs. “All I would say is keep going,” he added.

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