The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, received an alert from the Test-and-trace app to say he had come into contact with someone with coronavirus, less than a week after returning from Portugal.
The senior Tory recently returned from Porto, where he had travelled with his son, Will, to support Chelsea in the Champions League final last Saturday. The Cabinet Office confirmed Gove had been alerted by the NHS Covid app. A spokesperson said: “He has followed Covid-19 regulations and guidance at all times and will continue to do so.”
After being notified by Test and trace on Thursday, four days after he returned from Portugal, Gove had to abandon a meeting with the Boris Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who had been discussing recovery from the pandemic with the leaders of the devolved nations via video link.
Rather than self-isolating for 10 days, Gove will take lateral flow tests each morning for seven days as part of a pilot scheme to measure the testing effectiveness of alternatives to quarantining. As long as participants test negative, they will be able to leave their homes “to carry out essential activity”.
Downing Street is one of the workplaces taking part in the scheme which launched on 9 May. Gove’s spokesperson said: “The chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster is participating in the daily contact testing programme after being advised to isolate today [Thursday] by NHS Test and trace.”
The Champions League football final between Chelsea and Manchester City was held in Porto on 29 May, with 6,000 fans from each club able to attend.
The PA news agency reported that numerous football fans returning from the match have since been told to self-isolate after multiple flights reported passengers testing positive.
At the time of the game Portugal had been on England’s holiday-friendly green list, meaning fans could attend without having to quarantine on their return.
However, on Thursday afternoon the UK government announced it would be relegating Portugal to the amber list on Tuesday, after a doubling of infection rates since the previous travel review.
The move came amid increasing concern over data suggesting the Delta variant, first detected in India and now dominant in the UK, appears significantly more likely to cause serious illness, and fears that returning travellers could bring in new variants, further jeopardising the government’s timetable to end many remaining restrictions on 21 June.
While it is not illegal to go to an amber-list country for a holiday, it is strongly discouraged. Arrivals must take a Covid test before travelling, and on days two and eight once they are in the UK, and must quarantine at home or in a hotel for 10 days.