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Businesses face huge challenges despite temporary isolation exemptions for some workers

Some critical workers in England will be able to leave self-isolation to attend work under new plans to prevent serious disruption to vital public services.

From today employers in certain specified sectors can seek advice from Government as to whether a worker can leave self-isolation to go to work.

Full details can be found here.

But Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said businesses still faced huge challenges in the weeks ahead despite the move: “While the announcement of a process which may exempt select critical workers from self-isolation in England will be a relief to some businesses, it will leave many more still facing critical staff shortages and lost revenue as the number of people being asked to isolate remains high.  

“Nearly half of the businesses we surveyed this week have had staff either off sick with COVID or self-isolating in the past two weeks. Businesses want to play their part in stopping the spread of the virus while at the same time striving to revive their business after 16 months of disruption and closures.   

“Pilot schemes for ‘test to release’ options have been running for some time now and we would urge the government to immediately bring forward the results of those test schemes and set out how this could be used to enable more double vaccinated people to avoid self-isolation beyond this narrow group of critical workers. 

“Government departments are likely to face large volumes of requests for exemptions in the coming days. They must live up to their commitment to responding quickly to requests and provide clear and precise guidance as to what individuals and businesses should do, for example with regards to testing.” 

The newly announced exemption only applies to workers who are fully vaccinated and will only be in place until exemption for fully-vaccinated contacts is introduced on August 16.

Employers covered by this process will receive a letter from a Government department setting out the designated critical workers and telling employers what steps they and those critical workers must follow. Details can also be found online using the link above.

The areas listed for exemption for some workers are:

  • Energy
  • Civil nuclear
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Food production and supply
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Veterinary medicines
  • Essential chemicals
  • Essential transport
  • Medicines and medical devices
  • Clinical consumable supplies
  • Emergency services
  • Border control
  • Essential defence outputs
  • Local government

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