The GOVERNMENT has set out how a limited number of critical workers will be spared self-isolation if identified as a contact of a coronavirus case.

Updated guidance said “in the small number of situations where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, a limited number of named workers may be able to leave self-isolation under specific controls for the purpose of undertaking critical work only”.

The policy only applies to named workers if their employer has received a letter from the relevant government department.

“This is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector,” the guidance said.

The new process to allow critical workers to carry on with their jobs even if identified as a contact of a coronavirus case is only intended to run until August 16, when a wider relaxation for fully vaccinated contacts is set to take effect.

Where employers believe the self-isolation of certain key employees as contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, they have been asked to contact the relevant Government department.

Individuals identified as contacts should only attend work in “critical elements of national infrastructure” and if their absence “would be likely to lead to the loss or compromise of this infrastructure” resulting in a “major detrimental impact” on the delivery of essential services or a significant impact on national security.

The guidance stressed the process “will not cover all or in most cases even the majority of workers in critical sectors”, suggesting that while people in crucial railway signalling roles could be covered by the exemption, it was less likely to be applied to individual drivers.

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Officials will “agree the roles and workplaces that are likely to meet the criteria” for the self-isolation exemption “on a daily basis”.

“Where a specific case meets the criteria, the employer will receive a letter from the relevant department setting out the named critical workers designated and telling them what measures they and those workers need to follow,” the guidance said.

The guidance lists 16 sectors: 

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

Separate arrangements are in place for frontline health and care staff.

 

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