PMQs: Sir Keir Starmer warns of 'summer of chaos' if Covid cases hit 100,000 a day

ITV News Correspondent Libby Wiener reports on Boris Johnson defending his plan to end restrictions

Sir Keir Starmer has warned the UK faces a "summer of chaos" if coronavirus cases hit 100,000 a day as "millions" are forced to self-isolate, as he faced off against Boris Johnson at Prime Minister's Questions.

The Labour Leader highlighted remarks from Health Secretary Sajid Javid that infections could reach 100,000 a day while pressing the prime minister on his decision to bring almost all restrictions to an end when England enters step 4, currently scheduled for July 19.

He said Boris Johnson was trying to “wish away” the practical problems that will come if Covid cases hit six-figures each day.

Sir Keir accused Mr Johnson of “ignoring the next big problem that’s heading down the track” over the prospect of spiralling levels of self-isolation."

If the planned lifting of restrictions goes ahead on July 19 there will be a six week gap between then and the end of self-isolation rules for the under-18s and people who have been fully vaccinated on August 16.

Hospitality chiefs have warned that the delay between restrictions being lifted and the self-isolation rules being eased risks “the summer being cancelled and vast swathes of the population unnecessarily confined to their homes”.

Free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute predicted 100,000 daily cases would result in 3.5 million people a week being forced to self-isolate through the track and trace system.

The Labour leader said: “The question was simply how many people are going to be asked to self-isolate if there are 100,000 infections a day and he won’t answer it.

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green list areas.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

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“We know why he won’t answer it and he pretends I’m asking a different question, he ignored the problems in schools and now there are 700,000 children off per week.

“Now he’s ignoring the next big problem that’s heading down the track and going to affect millions of people who have to self-isolate.

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“It won’t feel like ‘freedom day’ to those who have to isolate, when they’re having to cancel their holidays, when they can’t go to the pub or even to their kid’s sports day. And it won’t feel like freedom day to the businesses who are already warning of carnage because of the loss of staff and customers.”

Sir Keir added: “We all want restrictions lifted, we want our economy open and we want to get back to normal but we’ve been here too many times before.

"Isn’t it the case that once again instead of a careful, controlled approach, we’re heading for a summer of chaos and confusion?”

Mr Johnson refused to say how many people he expects to be self-isolating this summer, as he defended the move towards testing as “the prudent approach”.The prime minister told the Commons: “What we will be doing is moving away from self-isolation towards testing over the course of the next few weeks, and that is the prudent approach.

Experts have warned lifting Covid guidelines, including face masks and social distancing, amid exponentially rising coronavirus cases will lead to increasing hospitalisations and deaths.

Sir Keir also used PMQs to welcome Kim Leadbeater to the Commons who was recently elected to be Labour MP for Batley and Spen.

She sat in the seat which her sister Jo Cox used to sit in before she was murdered in 2016.

Sir Keir said Ms Leadbeater's arrival in the Commons was a "special and emotional moment for all of us on these benches."