Johnson was exposed to COVID-19 in a meeting with Health Secretary Sajid Javid on July 16, 2021, and NHS policy means that was required to isolate for 10 days; however, Number 10 announced he was part of a pilot study, meaning he could continue to work.
However, national outrage meant he had to perform a sharp U-Turn and remove himself from the pilot study.
According to Business Insider, on the morning of July 18, 2021, Johnson was "pinged" by the NHS COVID-19 app - a contact tracing app used to identify those exposed to COVID and therefore must isolate to stop the spread.
In contrast to common practice, 10 Downing Street announced that the Prime Minister and Rishi Sunak - Chancellor of the Exchequer - would not be isolating, and would instead be participating in a pilot scheme and going into his office to continue "essential Government business."
However, mass public backlash caused this announcement to be reversed in less than two hours. A flurry of criticism had come from voters, political opponents and business owners.
Sunak took to Twitter to announce that "I recognise that even the sense that the rules aren't the same for everyone is wrong. To that end I'll be self-isolating as normal and not taking part in the pilot."
Later in the day, according to Business Insider, Johnson filmed a video of himself stating that he will be self-isolating until Monday, July 26, 2021.
He said that it was "briefly" considered he would avoid COVID-19 isolation regulations, but stated that it would be "far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules."
Opposition politicians had said it was hypocritical for Johnson and Sunak to have tried to exempt themselves from some of the rules.
"Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been busted yet again for thinking the rules that we are all following don’t apply to them," said Labour Party leader Keir R. Starmer.
According to Business Insider, this is the latest case in a string of COVID-related controversies involving the most senior of the UK Government.
On June 26, then-Health Secretary Matthew J. D. Hancock stepped down from his position after leaked footage showed him kissing his aide in his office whilst Covid restrictions banned such intimate contact.
Last year, the senior advisor to Johnson - Dominic M. Cummings - sparked national fury when it was revealed that he drove over 200 miles in a national lockdown whilst being positive for COVID-19.