The Queen has tested positive for Covid on the eve her prime minister is set to announce the end of pandemic restrictions for England.
Buckingham Palace confirmed the 95-year-old Queen has Covid and is “experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week.”
Tomorrow (February 21), Boris Johnson will lay out his plans and announce the end of mandatory isolation for people – like the Queen – who test positive for Covid. The government’s “learning to live with Covid” strategy will also give guidance for households and businesses on managing the virus. An end to free Covid PCR and lateral flow tests is also expected to be announced, raising fears of a surge of infections and about the impact the strategy will have on vulnerable people.
Queen got Covid after Charles’ visit
The Queen is 96 in April and the Telegraph reports that concerns over her health “arose” after she was in contact with Prince Charles at Windsor, who tested positive for Covid on February 10 (for the second time). Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, tested positive on February 14.
Last week Prince Andrew’s lawyers confirmed an out of court settlement with Virginia Guiffre over sex trafficking allegations. The Duke of York – already stripped off most of his other titles – has reportedly agreed to pay £12 million to settle the civil case and stop it going to trial in a US courtroom.
PM ends ‘free’ Covid tests
The tax payer, up to now, has been footing the bill for PCR and lateral flow tests but Johnson today (February 20) confirmed the end of ‘free’ tests for the public.
“[W]e don’t need to keep spending at a rate of £2 billion a month, which is what we were doing in January”, claimed Johnson..
He said testing will be “at a much lower level” as the number of Covid patients in hospital “is thankfully coming down now, the number of cases in ICU is certainly way, way down, we’re in a different world.
“I think it is important that people should feel confident again and that people should feel able to go back to work in the normal way. I do want to see our country really getting back on its feet.”
Johnson said: “We have reached a stage where we think you can shift the balance away from state mandation, away from banning certain courses of action, and compelling certain courses of action, in favour of encouraging personal responsibility,” .
The PM added that people should remain cautious of the “dangerous disease” and did not rule out reintroducing restrictions in the future.
“You’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” said Johnson.
PM dodges Partygate questions 17 times
His comments were part of wide ranging – and extraordinary – pre-recorded interview, The Independent shows some of the “excruciating exchange” between Johnson and the BBC’s Sophie Raworth in which the prime minister “dodges Partygate questions 17 times.”
During an 11 minute grilling, Johnson “refused to say what happened or whether he felt ashamed” and “notably refused to commit to resigning” should he be fined by police for law breaking.
Despite there being no reason for being unable to answer questions about partygate, Johnson insisted that “there’s literally not a bean I can tell you about that, much as I would like to”.
Viewers of BBC’s Sunday Morning Live programme watched the PM repeatedly duck Raworth’s questions, claim he could not comment before the investigation is concluded.
Downing Street confirmed on Friday the prime minister has filled in and returned the Met police questionnaire about his involvement in illegal lockdown parties. Johnson is one of 50 members of the No 10 team asked to complete the police questionnaire.
Jon Stone, in the Independent says a fixed penalty notice fine will be issued by the Met to anyone “without a good excuse” doe attending a party. The process “is expected to take days or weeks.”