The full list of critical industries whose workers can avoid Covid self isolation rules if ‘pinged’ by the NHS Track and Trace app has been published by the government.
Staff in a small number of sectors, which include food production and supply, medicines and public transport, will be freed from having to quarantine for 10 days only to “undertake critical work”.
The exemption list comes in an effort to contain the “pingdemic” which has forced thousands of workers into isolation, resulting in huge staff shortages at businesses across the country.
A record 618,903 people in England and Wales were forced into quarantine in the week to 14 July after being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app, after coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Who is exempt from self isolation rules?
The government has published a list of critical industries that qualify for self isolation exemption.These include the following:
- Civil nuclear
- Digital infrastructure
- Food production
- Veterinary medicines
- Essential chemicals
- Essential transport
- Medical devices
- Clinical consumable supplies
- Emergency services
- Border control
- Essential defence outputs
- Local government
However, workers in these sectors are not granted a blanket or automatic exemption. Instead, staff will be told individually by their boss if they are supposed to come into work.
The government has said that people will only qualify for exemption if they have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and in “exceptional circumstances”.
Those who meet this criteria will only be permitted to go into work, but cannot go anywhere else.
Guidance states: “In the small number of situations where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, a limited number of named workers may be able to leave self isolation under specific controls for the purpose of undertaking critical work only”.
In some “exceptional cases”, there may be critical roles in other sectors which could be granted permission to avoid quarantine on a case-by-case basis.
Up to 10,000 workers are expected to qualify for the exemption scheme who will only be allowed into work if "there would otherwise be a major detrimental impact on essential services".
Workers must take an initial PCR test, followed by daily lateral flow tests, and will be expected to isolate if they test positive.
The policy is due to last until 16 August when quarantine rules for people who are fully vaccinated are set to end if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
After this date, double jabbed Brits will only have to isolate for 10 days if they develop coronavirus symptoms or test positive themselves.
How do businesses apply for permission?
Guidance states that businesses on the critical sectors list need to contact the relevant government department for permission to allow workers to avoid self isolation.
Businesses will be asked to provide information on the number of staff they want to free from quarantine, the jobs that they do, and the impact that self-isolation would have on their work.
If a worker is deemed to meet the criteria, their employer will receive a letter from the government telling them what measures they need to follow.
Unless businesses have received a letter with the employee specifically named, the exemption policy does not apply.
Separate arrangements are in place for frontline health and care staff.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.