UK Government’s “confusing” self-isolation announcement lacks clarity on lorry drivers
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Amid empty supermarket shelves and other disruption caused by staff self-isolating after being ‘pinged’ by the NHS’s Covid-19 app, the UK Government has released details on which workers can be exempt from self-isolation. However, the announcement lack specifics and has been described as “confusing” by Rod Mckenzie of the Road Haulage Association.
At around 10pm last night UK time, the government announced its new rules on which sectors can have staff avoid 10-day self-isolation in the event contact tracers or the NHS app orders them to do so. The Scottish Government shall also announce its equivalent plan later today.
Among the staff listed as being eligible for self-isolation exemptions are employees who have “critical roles in the food supply chain”. However, the announcement also stated that the exemption does not apply to all workers in a particular market sector.
Those eligible for exemptions will be able to leave their homes for work if they test negative for coronavirus. They must nonetheless stay at home before and after work, and self-isolate if they test positive. The exemptions only apply to staff who are fully vaccinated and have had their 2nd shot more than two weeks prior to being ordered to self-isolate.
As Sky News reports, the exemptions will only be open to a “limited number of named workers” in critical services and are only intended to run until 16 August. More details on specific professions are nonetheless yet to be made available, sparking confusion as to whether lorry drivers will be exempt from self-isolation.
On top of that, it is said that staff will only be exempt if their employer has received a letter from the government on which their name is listed.
According to the announcement, if employers believe the absence of their staff would compromise “critical elements of national infrastructure” they are advised to contact the relevant government department.
Rod McKenzie, the RHA’s Managing Director of Policy & Public Affairs, described the announcement as “confusing” and questioned what the statement actually means.
— Rod McKenzie (@RHARodMcKenzie) July 22, 2021
RHA Chief Executive Duncan Buchanan also had questions regarding the announcement. Writing on Twitter, he asked “What government departments are going to issue the letters to companies?” and added “10’s of thousands of named lorry drivers will need letters…”
In addition to the aforementioned announcement, the government said it was launching a pilot testing scheme for food supply chain workers.
According to Sky News, Environment Secretary George Eustice has said “up to 500″ distribution centres and food supply chain hubs have been identified where workers could be part of the exemption scheme.
As of today, workers at 15 sites will be able to go to work and avoid a quarantine after being ‘pinged’ provided they test negative each day for 7 days. The same rules will then be implemented at 150 supermarket depots next week before “several hundred” food manufacturers follow a week later.
Mr Eustice told Sky News the new exemption will apply to “probably close to 10,000, possibly more staff” including supermarket depots and distribution centres.
Once further details become available, Trans.INFO will provide an update on this matter.
Photo credit: NHS