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Boris Johnson mistakenly tells public they can get ‘£500-per-week’ self-isolation payment in latest Covid gaffe

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the headquarters of Octopus Energy in London. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has made his third gaffe in a week when he mistakenly told Britons they were eligible for a “£500-per-week” payment for self-isolating.

The prime minster claimed it was a weekly payment to people on low incomes when it in fact was for the whole period of isolation, which could be a minimum of 14 days.

Last week, Johnson incorrectly claimed the “rule of six” did not apply outdoors and then told a women in Wirral she could meet her daughter in the park, despite previously advising against meetings.

The government will pay workers forced to self-isolate £500 from Monday September 28.

Up to 4 million low-wage workers in England can claim the payment, as long as they are both working and on benefits.

To be eligible, people must be told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or if they have had contact with someone who has.

Heaping praise on the policy idea, Johnson said people would get “£500 if you do [isolate] per week and a £10,000 fine if you don’t”.

But the payment is for the whole isolation period – 10 days for someone who is positive, or 14 for their contacts.

Asked why Johnson didn’t know the rules, his official spokesman said: “The payment of £500 is there, it’s a lump sum and we think it is important in recognising that we’re asking people to make a sacrifice by self-isolating.

“It’s right that where they’re on lower incomes financial support should be available.”

Asked again, his spokesman said: “I think he was setting out the fact that we’ve recognising we are placing a burden on people by asking them to self-isolate.”

The spokesman added it was “right” to help with financial support.

Payments will begin in mid-October and be backdated to anyone who was forced to self-isolate from September 28.

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