29 July 2021
We reported last week that certain critical workers would be able to leave self-isolation in exceptional circumstances and with permission from Government Departments (see Fully vaccinated critical workers may be able to leave self-isolation).
Following criticism from a number of business groups that the rules were unclear, or failed to cover enough sectors, the Government has promised that daily contact testing will be offered to more emergency service and critical workers who would otherwise need to self-isolate.
New testing sites will be allocated for frontline police and fire services to ensure critical staff can continue their vital work, the Government said. Frontline Border Force staff, working at some ports across the country, will be able to take part in the Border Force run testing centres.
With an expected initial additional 1200 testing sites in England, another aim will be to support the most critical parts of the country’s transport and freight systems. These include rail infrastructure, ports and airports and haulage firms.
While the Government has not confirmed how many sites are currently up-and-running, some 800 are known to be being set up for police, firefighters, supermarket depot staff and some other industries.
When all 2000 testing sites are open, 800 will deal with food industry, transport and Border Force workers, as well as police and fire services.
The other 1200 will be for people employed in prisons, waste, defence and veterinary medicine, plus the energy, pharmaceutical, telecoms, chemical, communications, water, space and fish industries.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “Our transport workers have done an incredible job throughout the pandemic to keep this country moving. To make sure they can continue to do their vital work safely, I’m pleased we’ll be rolling out testing sites to key transport locations — enabling staff to continue working with confidence”.
Daily testing will enable eligible workers who have received alerts from the NHS Covid 19 app or have been called by NHS Test and Trace and told they are a contact and to isolate will be able to continue working if they test negative.
The Government has said that employers and workers taking part in Daily Contact Testing will be provided with guidance about the protocols they must follow.