Covid-19: More testing sites for key workers to avoid isolation
Police, transport, freight and fire workers will now join the daily contact testing scheme.
Getty ImagesA scheme to allow key workers to avoid Covid self-isolation in England has been significantly expanded following criticism it did not go far enough.Police, fire, Border Force, transport and freight staff will now be able to join a daily workplace test scheme, whether they are vaccinated or not.
It follows the announcement that up to 10,000 supermarket depot and food factory workers would be eligible.Warnings of staff shortages have come from several sectors in recent days.Police forces, local authorities, transport providers and supermarkets were among those calling for a review of self-isolation rules to avoid crippling shutdowns or skeleton operations.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Daily testing will keep our frontline teams safe while they continue to serve the public and communities across our country."The latest changes come ahead of a planned overhaul of self-isolation rules from 16 August in England - when all those who are fully vaccinated would avoid having to isolate and instead carry out daily testing. headtopics.com
It comes as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan joined leading business figures in urging Prime Minister Boris Johnsonto bring this date forward and end self-isolation for close contactsif they are fully vaccinated.They called for more testing sites to allow those who are "pinged" by the NHS Covid-19 app and test negative for the virus, to keep working.
Check the latest rules in your areaA growing number of people have been told to self-isolate for 10 days after coming into close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.Almost 608,000 contact tracing alerts were sent from the NHS Covid-19 app in the week to 15 July - a record high.
The daily test scheme means eligible workers who are alerted by the app in England - or contacted by NHS Test and Trace - will be able to continue working if they test negative each day, whatever their vaccination status.On Friday evening, the government announced "an expected initial 200 new testing sites" to help screen those who are eligible.
Critical workers in the health, food and transport sectors can apply to be exempt from self-isolation in Scotland.A separate scheme in England allows employers to apply in advance for exemptions for named fully-vaccinated critical workers in a small number of industries, such as the energy sector. headtopics.com
It is not clear when the 200 additional new testing sites will be available.BBC Newsnight policy editor Lewis Goodall said "confusion - if not some chaos - has reigned in Whitehall over the past 24 hours days as ministers and officials grapple with the large number of workers being told to self isolate".
The high number of notifications sent - branded a "pingdemic" - led to shortages of some products in supermarkets and staffing problems for frontline services.Announcing the new testing sites and the broader list of eligible workers, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said daily contact testing would "help to minimise any disruption caused by rising cases in the coming weeks, while ensuring staff are not put at risk".
Under current self-isolation rules in England, anyone who is traced as a close contact of a confirmed positive case must isolate for 10 days, whether or not they have received both doses of a vaccine.The change to rules, planned from 16 August will also mean under-18s will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are contact traced.
Similar rules are due to come into force in Scotland from 9 August - and in Wales from 7 August. Read more: BBC News (UK) »
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