A “get out of jail free” pilot scheme that allows people who have been pinged by the NHS Covid app to escape isolation has been quietly opened up to the public.
The pilot, which was used by Michael Gove to escape isolation following a trip to Portugal, involves being tested every day rather than staying at home after being notified by Test and Trace.
Officials previously said the trial was only open to select employers, including several government departments, and had not yet been approved for the public at large.
But The Telegraph understands that anyone who signs up to the scheme via an online form has a 50 per cent chance of being accepted. The other half of applicants join a control group, and are required to continue to isolate.
Contact tracers, who are employed to inform people they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19, have also recommended that some Britons join the pilot.
Number of contact tracing alerts sent in England
The scheme has not been advertised online by Public Health England or the Department of Health, who are jointly running it.
It is thought that it could allow people to escape the “pingdemic” of self-isolation, after half a million people were notified in the last week alone.
MPs have likened the scheme to the “get out of jail free” card from Monopoly.
Earlier this week Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said the Government was still analysing the data from the first round of the trial, which saw 40,000 people take part.
The Telegraph understands the policy may not be rolled out for at least another two months.
Asked about the scheme on Friday, Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said: “The pilot is ongoing and it’s important we look and study the findings of that properly.
“The Prime Minister has said before that breaking the chains of transmission is still important, which is why we are asking people to still isolate.”
It comes after it was revealed the NHS Covid-19 app has forced more than half a million people to isolate in the past week, amid fears that some sectors of the economy including the hospitality industry could face staff shortages.