Government announces 16 sectors where double-vaccinated key staff WON’T have to isolate if pinged


‘Critical workers’ will be exempt from pingdemic: Government announces 16 sectors from transport to police and food suppliers where key staff WON’T have to isolate – but ignores business pleas that app is crippling recovery

  • Updated guidance said ‘limited number of named workers’ could leave isolation
  • ‘This is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector,’ the guidance stated
  • Process allowing critical workers to be exempt intended to run until August 16

The Government has announced 16 sectors from transport to police and food suppliers where double-vaccinated key staff will not have to isolate if pinged. 

Updated guidance said ‘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’.

The policy only applies to named workers if their employer has received a letter from the relevant government department.

‘This is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector,’ the guidance said.

The new process to allow critical workers to carry on with their jobs even if identified as a contact of a coronavirus case is only intended to run until August 16, when a wider relaxation for fully vaccinated contacts is set to take effect. 

Blue bars show the number of ‘pings’ sent by the NHS app each week; red bars show the number of people contacted by Test and Trace call handlers; and yellow bars show the number of people who tested positive for Covid

In total, when children sent home to isolate from school are included, there were up to 2.3million people told to quarantine last week - or 3 per cent of the entire population

 In total, when children sent home to isolate from school are included, there were up to 2.3million people told to quarantine last week – or 3 per cent of the entire population

Officials will ‘agree the roles and workplaces that are likely to meet the criteria’ for the self-isolation exemption ‘on a daily basis’.

‘Where a specific case meets the criteria, the employer will receive a letter from the relevant department setting out the named critical workers designated and telling them what measures they and those workers need to follow,’ the guidance said.

The guidance lists 16 sectors: energy, civil nuclear, digital infrastructure, food production and supply, waste, water, veterinary medicines, essential chemicals, essential transport, medicines, medical devices, clinical consumable supplies, emergency services, border control, essential defence and local government.

But it adds that ‘in some exceptional cases’ there may be critical roles in other sectors which could be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

Separate arrangements are in place for frontline health and care staff. 

Where employers believe the self-isolation of certain key employees as contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, they have been asked to contact the relevant Government department.

Individuals identified as contacts should only attend work in ‘critical elements of national infrastructure’ and if their absence ‘would be likely to lead to the loss or compromise of this infrastructure’ resulting in a ‘major detrimental impact’ on the delivery of essential services or a significant impact on national security.

The guidance stressed the process ‘will not cover all or in most cases even the majority of workers in critical sectors’, suggesting that while people in crucial railway signalling roles could be covered by the exemption, it was less likely to be applied to individual drivers.

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