As temperatures spiralled, ministers pleaded with people to take “personal responsibility” as they headed back to the workplace, pubs and restaurants. Many nightclubs were packed as they reopened at a minute after midnight.

Early signs were that there had not been a rush back to offices, with Tube ridership until 9am on Monday at 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, similar to many recent days, and bus ridership slightly higher than the trend at 69 per cent.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the timescale of the plan to allow the double jabbed who are “pinged” by the NHS Covid app to avoid self-isolation if they test negative, but only from August 16. He told BBC Radio’s 4’s Today programme: “There are no easy decisions but this is the clinical advice.”

The rules on self-isolating have been relaxed for frontline NHS and social care staff.

With England braced for its biggest Covid-19 wave yet as the Government takes the country into uncharted scientific territory, ministers called on firms to show “corporate responsibility”.

However, the Prime Minister was hit by a backlash from business chiefs who warned that the “pingdemic” was closing pubs, shops and other companies.

CBI President Lord Bilimoria told Talk Radio: “There are estimates, that we’ve made, that up to five million people could be self-isolating — some estimates are 10 million people — by August 16. It’s crippling the economy at the moment in every sector.”

Former PM Tony Blair called for far greater use to be made of lateral flow tests to tackle the “pingdemic”.

Mr Zahawi said the ending of legal restrictions, when schools are going on holiday and amid the UK’s vaccine programme, was a “cautious move to bringing back normality to our lives and getting our businesses back on their feet”.

With ministers having toned down their rhetoric about “Freedom Day”, he told BBC Breakfast: “I think it is right that we now move from government by diktat because we’re wanting to get our lives back, get back to normality and get people to take personal responsibility, yes, but also corporate responsibility.”

Main Source link