The government has released a list of 16 sectors in which fully vaccinated workers can be exempted from self-isolation if asked to self-quarantine after coming in close contact with a positive COVID case.
Sectors include energy, civilian nuclear, digital infrastructure, food production and supply, waste, water, veterinary drugs, essential chemicals, essential transport, drugs, medical devices, consumables clinics, emergency services, border control, essential defense products and local government.
Covered persons will be able to leave their COVID-19[female[feminine isolation to get to work and do their job after a negative daily test but must stay home if not and go directly to quarantine if they test positive.
It will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated – and 14 days after their second coronavirus vaccine.
The government had said it would publish a list of critical jobs that would be exempt – but so far there is nothing more specific than the sectors named above.
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The exemptions will only be open to a “limited number of appointed workers” in critical departments and are only supposed to run until August 16.
This is when a broader relaxation for fully vaccinated contacts should take effect.
Workers have also been warned that they will only be exempt if their employer has received a letter from the government with their name written on it.
The government has said “this is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector” and guidelines released Thursday night stressed that the process “will not cover all or, in most cases , even the majority of workers in critical sectors ”.
He added that those identified as close contacts of a positive case of the virus should only get to work if their absence would result in the “loss or compromise” of “critical pieces of the national infrastructure”.
If employers believe that the absence of their staff would have this impact, they are encouraged to contact the relevant government department.
Business and industry figures have called for the establishment of exemptions, amid warnings that staff shortages caused by the so-called ‘pingemia’ are having a ripple effect in a number of sectors such as than the NHS, the police and supermarkets.
Any company that believes its workers should be exempt is urged to contact the relevant government department.
The government confirmed on Monday that there will be exemptions for “critical workers” and said train flaggers and air traffic controllers will be included.
Newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Throughout this global pandemic, essential workers across the country have done the extraordinary in providing life-saving services – from policing the streets to maintaining our open transport links.
“These people are the backbone of many of our most vital services and, as we learn to live with this virus, it is only right that we do everything in our power to protect the services from disruption by allowing our essential, fully immunized workers to continue doing their important jobs. “
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs described the move as “a small, targeted intervention to ensure that services essential to the safety and functioning of our society can continue.”
But there has been confusion over which areas should be included in the program and how a worker would know they no longer have to quarantine if they are in close contact with a positive case.
Earlier Thursday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted the government was “very concerned” about the number of people interviewed by the NHS app.
His comments come as retailers warn that they are under “increasing pressure” to keep shelves well stocked amid staff shortages caused by ‘pingemia’.
Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, Mr Kwarteng said ministers are “monitoring” the situation and will draw up a list of critical workers exempted “very soon”.
“The list of exemptions will be quite narrow because obviously you have to draw a line somewhere,” Kwarteng said.
This list was expected to be released on Thursday.
But Downing Street said earlier this week that it would not “produce a list covering individual sectors”employers should instead turn to government departments to enable workers to effectively bypass COVID-19[female[feminine rules around isolation.