23 Jul 2021

Government releases list of 'critical workers' exempt from self-isolation

The Government has released a list of sectors where workers in England may be exempt from self-isolation if contacted by the NHS test and trace app.

The sectors covered are as follows however, are only exempt if the employer receives a letter from the Government advising them so. The exact roles which are exempt, and the names of the individuals working in those roles will also be specified in the letter.

  • Energy
  • Civil Nuclear
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Food production and supply (this will not include cafes, etc)
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Vet Meds
  • Essential Chemicals
  • Essential Transport
  • Medicines
  • Medical Devices
  • Clinical Consumer supplies
  • Emergency Services
  • Border Control

In all non-specified roles and sectors, self-isolation must continue to take place if required by track and trace.

The policy states: “It applies to named workers in specifically approved workplaces who are fully vaccinated (defined as someone who is 14 days post-final dose) and who have been identified as close contacts. Permission to attend work is contingent on following certain controls, agreed by the Department of Health and Social Care, to mitigate the risk of increased infection. This is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector.”

However, companies may apply to the Government for employee exemption, if they believe roles are critical, and self-isolation would result in ‘serious disruption’ to critical service.

Information required for an application includes:

  • the number of people who it is proposed would leave self-isolation
  • the roles those individuals need to perform
  • the impact failure to do this would have and when this impact is likely to materialise (for example, is it already an issue or likely to materialise in the coming days)”

The policy adds: “Decisions will be made rapidly on a case-by-case basis and kept under review.”

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO, said: "It is right for the Government to start to amend the self isolations policies but their proposal does not go far enough to help independent retailers.

"These retailer are very fearful of being closed down with no financial support. The Government cites the self-employed furlough scheme, but we already know that only 25% of self-employed people could benefit from this, and even less retailers.

"We raised the issue of self isolation with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Stratgey three weeks ago and asked for support. We've had no response as yet but Bira will continue the fight for the smaller retailers. It would be a tragedy if the Government caused small retailers to fail by removing regulations without any forethought or support for those most affected." 

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