With the “Freedom Day” celebration drowned out by a chorus of over 600,000 “pings” from the NHS Test & Trace app and images of empty supermarket shelves circulating on social media, the government has belatedly – and perhaps reluctantly – agreed to exempt a limited number of workers from self-isolation.
Approximately 10,000 food supply chain workers and a limited number of key employees in critical sectors, from energy to emergency services will instead be tested and released.
So far, the system has only been used in 20 trials, including the program at Whitehall that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak briefly attempted to join to avoid self-isolation before quitting. ‘an uproar does not force you to turn around.
Food maker apetito has been running a more credible program for months and has offered Sky News a glimpse of how it works.
The company, based in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, manufactures food for nursing homes and hospitals, and manages the program among its 500 production lines and distribution staff.
Instead of isolating themselves, all close contacts of COVID-positive workers undergo a lateral flow test for seven days and, if each is negative, they can continue to work.
Company business manager Lee Sheppard said that while the program has reduced the number of lone workers, Test and Release alone is not enough to control COVID-19[female[feminine epidemics.
“The number of isolates is increasing,” he told Sky News.
“Ours are still relatively low, but daily contact testing certainly helps, and as those numbers increase they will become even more valuable.
“But testing alone is not the answer. Testing is extremely valuable, it allows you to identify asymptomatic cases that you wouldn’t find otherwise. But the real focus here is prevention of transmission.
“And that’s where I think (we need) COVID safety measures, relentless focus on social distancing, face coverings, one-way systems of worker segregation, etc.
“We haven’t very consciously relaxed our guidelines since July 19 because we’ve seen the challenges there.
“(Testing and release is) precious, there’s no question – people we would otherwise have lost in the workplace to isolation, we can bring them back.
“But without all of the other COVID measures, this is not enough. It has to be a combination of the whole picture.”