Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke to ITV earlier today.
Following the government launching the new NHS Test and Trace system for England this morning, Health Secretary Matt Hancock was welcomed back on today’s This Morning by hosts Eamonn Holmes OBE and Ruth Langsford.
The Health Secretary explained the initiative further, commented on the public’s faith in the government currently, additional amendments to lockdown, summer holidays and hairdressing, as well as having his hair cut by his wife inspired by Phillip Schofield.
Questioned if a person gets a call from the NHS to say they need to self-isolate, do the other people in the same household have to isolate for 14 days, Matt Hancock confirmed: “No they don’t. If somebody has tested positive then their household has to self isolate, that’s been the rules for some time now, at least since mid-March. The new rule is if you get a call, even if you’re healthy, even if you haven’t got any symptoms, even if like me you’ve had Coronavirus, if you’ve been in close contact with someone who tests positive, then you need to isolate but the rest of your household does not because it’s you who’s at risk.”
Matt Hancock went on to explain that the best thing the public can do to avoid having to keep re-self isolating is to: “Follow the social distancing rules, because the definition of close contact, and why you get that call asking you to self-isolate, that definition is the same thing that has underpinned our social distancing rules. So if you stay more than two metres away from people who are outside your household, then you will not be coming into close contact with people.
“Similarly in the workplace, we have clear guidelines for how to do social distancing in the workplace and if people follow those guidelines for social distancing in the workplace, staying more than two meters apart, then they won’t have that close contact.”
On if the public has enough faith in the government currently with how they’ve dealt with the pandemic, the Health Secretary was adamant: “Yes, we’ve been testing this with people and obviously we have had a lot of feedback since we launched it last night. I’m confident that the vast majority of people will do as per the instructions from the NHS. In the same way that if your NHS doctor said you’re under doctor’s orders to self-isolate for any other health condition… we’re highly confident.
“Also, it’s in everybody’s interests that we all do this, if we’re instructed to do this by the NHS. That way we can get safer. …I would say there’s a reason we’re asking you to do this… it’s not for us, it’s not for me, it’s not for the government. It’s for your family, it’s for your community, it’s for the country, because we can only come through this together… Ultimately, we are all on the same side in the fight against this virus. We all want to tackle it and this is a really important component in tackling it.”
And on imposing penalties at a later date for not meeting the NHS request to self-isolate: “I hope we don’t have to do that, but I do have the legal powers that Parliament granted at the start of the crisis to be able to put in enforcement. But we think this would be much better if it was done on a voluntary basis.”
Asked when he thought this pandemic might come to an end, Hancock replied: “Things have definitely been improving in the past few weeks, there is good news. Now I’m cautious about this, people are still sadly dying from this disease, 412 people yesterday. That is still an awful lot of people. So I’m naturally cautious and anyway it’s my job as Health Secretary to be careful and cautious and safety first.”
“I hope we’ll soon be able to allow families to see each other again at more than two metres to keep that safe distance and lift some more of the measures. The more people that follow these instructions with this new Test and Trace system, the more people are going to be able to get the benefit of the lifting of the wider lockdown.”
“I am more optimistic. I’ve seen data that has made me quite positive in the last couple of weeks – the number of new cases coming down, the number of people in hospital coming down, the number of people attending hospital for the first time is almost an eighth of what it was at the height of the crisis.
In light of EasyJet announcing this morning that it will be reducing its workforce by 30%, Hancock was asked if the government will now be re-thinking it’s plans on quarantine: “We have been looking very carefully at this… My heart goes out to those working in airlines for whom this has just been an absolutely enormous impact.
“I am a little more optimistic than I was about being able to get some foreign travel back up. So that is one of the things that has gone a bit better than expected… We’ll keep that under review, that’s the next thing I’m going to do… We’ll try to do everything we can to allow the relaxation of freedoms, but we’ll only do that when it is safe to do so.”
Pushed on if it’s out of the question for people to hope to have a July foreign holiday this year, he said: “I absolutely wouldn’t rule it out. We’ve got to proceed cautiously… I definitely wouldn’t say no and I know how important it is for so many people.”
Ruth then complimented the Health Secretary on his hair, to which he responded: “My wife cut it and I think she did a fantastic job. I was actually inspired by watching Phillip have his cut on video last time I was on this programme.”
And on reopening hairdressers, he concluded: “I would love to be able to do that… but you do have to be in close contact with people in order to cut their hair… It’s a challenge because inevitably you have to be close, but it’s not an insurmountable challenge… We’re working on what it would look like to have that protective equipment in place.”
Pushed on if hair salons would open on 15th June alongside shops, he said: “I can’t commit to doing it on that timetable.”
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