Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Supermarket workers may avoid having to isolate if pinged by NHS Covid app

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Downing Street said there will be no single list published of “critical” industries whose workers can swerve isolation.

But “business critical areas” will be eligible to apply to specific Government departments. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It’s not a blanket exemption and my understanding is we’re not going to be producing a list covering individual sectors, these business-critical areas will be able to apply for exemptions to their host departments.

“There won’t be a list covering individual sectors… it’s important that anyone who feels they’re in a critical industry or wants to raise potential issues because of isolation are able to contact departments and get advice and where necessary get exemptions.”

When asked specifically about supermarket workers, the spokesman replied: “We’re not seeking to draw lines specifically around who or who is not exempt.

“What’s important is to make sure critical services are able to function and get that balance right between requiring people to isolate, but also making sure critical services can function.”

On Monday, Mr Johnson said isolation rules will be relaxed for a “small number” of fully-vaccinated critical workers who are identified as close contacts of Covid cases.

The Prime Minister has so far turned his back on calls to introduce a wider-reaching change to the current rules to cut down on the number of people having to enter isolation.

He described self-isolation as “one of the few shots we have got left in our locker”.

Speaking from his Chequers residence, Mr Johnson said it was necessary to keep the isolation rules largely unchanged until August 16.

At this point, a testing regime will replace the requirement for fully-vaccinated contacts to isolate.

However, Mr Johnson added: “In the meantime I want to assure you that we will protect crucial services, including the staffing of our hospitals and our care homes, the supplies of food, water electricity and medicines, the running of our trains, the protection of our borders, the defence of our realm, by making sure that a small number – a very small number – of named fully-vaccinated critical workers are able to leave their isolation solely for the the work that I have described.

“But for the vast majority of us, myself included, I’m afraid we do need to stick with this system for now.”

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