Minister denies public are ignoring coronavirus rules since Dominic Cummings' trip to Durham

Business minister Alok Sharma on Question Time

Business minister Alok Sharma on Question Time - Credit: BBC

Business minister Alok Sharma became the latest government minister to clash with Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce over the government's test and trace system.

Bruce asked the minister about a new study which found that only 18% of those developing coronavirus symptoms between May and August had fully self-isolated, with just 11% of those who had been contacted staying in quarantine. That compared to before April when the figure was said to be nearly 50%.

The disparity in figures appear to follow the furore over Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings and his lockdown-breaking trip to Durham.

Asked if he thought the rules were being followed, Sharma responded: “Well as we talk about test and trace there are almost half a million people who through that system have self-isolated who would otherwise have been putting others at risk.”

He said that there is a "process to make sure that happens", despite figures suggesting otherwise.

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But the minister could not confirm whether the government was checking up on people who were meant to be self-isolating.

He insisted, however, that people were following the rules - because those on trains were wearing face masks.

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“Let me give you an example when talking about people not necessarily following the rules.

“I come into London everyday by train and I’ve actually seen over the past few months just about everyone is observing the rule to have face coverings on public transport.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, also appearing on the programme, said the public had lost trust because of Dominic Cummings' rule-breaking.

He said: "If you're surprised that people are out there aren't following all the rules, however, I think you need to speak to your prime minister.

"You need to be saying why did he not pull up Dominic Cummings, it can't be one rule for us, and one rule for Boris Johnson's friends."

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