DOWNING Street has sparked fury after it was announced Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak will avoid quarantine despite being a close contact of someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

The Tory leaders will instead participate in a pilot scheme in which participants take daily tests. The programme, which has been running for several weeks, is believed to be open to around 20 institutions in the UK, including Number 10.

It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced he had contracted the disease, forcing him to self-isolate just 48 hours before England’s so-called “freedom day”, when coronavirus restrictions end.

*UPDATE: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak U-turn on plan to skip self-isolation*

The Prime Minister is reported to have had a lengthy meeting with Javid at No 10 on Friday. The Chancellor has also been contacted by Test and Trace and will also be taking part in the contact testing pilot.

A No 10 spokesman said: "They will be conducting only essential government business during this period."

There will be relief in Downing Street that Johnson will not be confined to home on so-called "freedom day" on Monday, but the announcement has prompted a backlash from business leader, politicians and health professionals.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said the move “just takes the p***”.

She tweeted: "Not following the rules that they created and which they expect my constituents to follow.

"This Government treats the public with contempt and think they are above the law and that the rules don't apply to them."

Rayner continued: "It is a legal requirement to isolate when contacted and instructed to do so by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of someone with Covid. By breaking the rules the PM and Chancellor have given millions of people a blank cheque to ignore the rules too. Dangerous and stupid."

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford added that the decision was “beyond belief” after others shared the official guidance for the pilot scheme, which states participants are chosen “at random”.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to avoid self-isolation despite Covid contact

He posted: The public are being told to follow the rules but this charlatan of a Prime Minister does not bend the rules he breaks them into little pieces. This is not leadership it is morally bankrupt. @BorisJohnson is not fit to be Prime Minister.”

LBC radio presenter James O’Brien suggested the announcement will be another PR disaster for the Tory government.

“Johnson not self-isolating is bonkers on every imaginable level,” he wrote. “Politically, it’s Barnard Castle x Hancock’s steamy clinch x 1000000. Practically, it makes even less sense because we know he never does any actual work.”

ITV’s Anushka Asthana added: “Difficult framing for freedom day – soaring cases, positive test for the Health Secretary, the PM and Chancellor on a special scheme that means they get round the rules that most have to follow, and tens of thousands holidaymakers plans ruined by restrictions on travel to France.”

It is estimated that around 50,000 people in the UK are currently self-isolating after being “pinged” by an NHS app.

Some in the education sector pointed to the hypocrisy of Johnson and Sunak’s exemption.

The National: Rishi Sunak

“This is going to be very hard to explain to all the students who went into self-isolation (some multiple times) last term,” Oxford University professor Tom Fletcher tweeted.

Ahead of “freedom day”, businesses have been pressing for the app to be overhauled and made less sensitive amid concerns that staff shortages mean they cannot operate effectively.

London Underground ran into problems over the weekend when the Metropolitan Line was forced to close due to a lack of control room staff.

While most Covid restrictions lift in England on Monday the rules on self-isolating for contacts of people who test positive are not eased until August 16.

Then people who are double-jagged will be able to take tests rather than quarantine at home.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the test-and-release pilot being used by Johnson and Sunak was being trialled by about 20 public sector organisations including Border Force and Transport for London.

The two minsters will be tested at a special testing centre which has been set up in Downing Street.

"It is correct that the Cabinet Office and Downing Street are part of the pilot. I am not aware that other [government] departments are," Jenrick told Sky News.

"It means that you can be tested every day in specialist asymptomatic testing centres such at the one that has been set up in Downing Street.

"It means that the Chancellor and the Prime Minister will be able to conduct the most essential Government meetings but the rest of their time will have to be spent isolating and not meeting up with family or friends or socialising. So it is relatively restrictive.

"I entirely appreciate that this isn't available yet to wider members of the public and the frustration that they might feel listening to this.

"Other members of the public who are pinged will have to self-isolate in the usual way and that is a really important part of our plan to keep Covid under control."