Depot workers and food manufacturers in UK supermarkets are exempt from quarantine regulations as the government seeks to prevent food supply problems.
The movement will come later Increasing number of retail workers forced to self-quarantine It has begun to affect the availability of some products.
The government said workers could have daily Covid tests instead of quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.
Up to 10,000 workers are expected to be covered by this system.
The new daily contact test measures will begin on Friday with 15 supermarket depots and will continue with 150 depots next week, but will not apply to supermarket clerk.
Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast that the government has identified about 500 “strategicly important” sites in the food supply chain, including supermarket distribution hubs and facilities of several major manufacturers. ..
He said the clerk was excluded from the plan because including the clerk was a “really important task”.
“You’re talking to thousands of different stores and more people, but we still want to maintain a testing, tracking, and isolation system.”
However, the government added that the policy was “under consideration, but I think this is a wise first step.”
“We never take risks in the food supply chain,” he added.
The government move comes as supermarkets say that the supply of some products is affected by a “riot” that keeps staff away from work.
NS Record 618,903 people were told to self-quarantine by NHS Covid app From July 8th to 15th in England and Wales.
Some retailers said they might have to close their stores, but said the problem wasn’t widespread and downplayed the fear of food shortages.
This means that workers who are warned by the app or contacted by NHS Test and Trace can continue to work even if the test result is negative, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. ..
“The turmoil is limited at this point,” said Helen Dickinson, CEO of the UK Retail Consortium, but the government will develop plans as quickly as possible and take further action as needed. It was important to be prepared to take.
Separately, the government has outlined plans to allow other major UK industries to deploy daily Covid tests instead of self-isolation for a limited number of mandatory workers. In this case, this scheme applies only to fully vaccinated workers.
The scheme covers sectors such as transportation, emergency services, border control, energy, digital infrastructure, waste, fisheries, critical defense power, and municipalities.
This policy applies only to workers on the list that are constantly updated by staff. This is not a full tax exemption for all employees in the sector.
“Shoppers need to be relieved”
This intervention should alleviate real food industry concerns about supply. Hundreds of designated locations (supermarket warehouses and food manufacturers) will be able to perform tests that allow workers to skip the need for self-isolation.
This is true regardless of the vaccination status of the worker. It does not apply to real supermarket stores, for example, rather than the entire sector.
But it should be enough to prevent sporadic shortages from becoming a systematic problem. Shoppers need to be relieved.
More generally, support in other sectors is limited.
The government announced earlier this week that it plans to allow named double-vaccinated workers to avoid quarantine in 16 sectors ranging from energy to waste, medical care, and essential transportation. Clarified that it applies to.
The bar is expensive. The government is trying to keep the test and trace system intact as a second line of defense against pandemics. As always, it’s difficult to balance.
Hannah Essex, co-secretary-general of the British Chamber of Commerce, said the announcement was reassuring for some companies, but “as the number of people seeking isolation increases, more people become critical staff. You will face a shortage and lose profits. ” It remains expensive. “
CBI Executive Director Tony Danker agrees and warns: “The current approach to self-isolation is to close the economy rather than open it.”
The company has already run out of emergency response plans to hire additional staff, “at risk of outages in the coming weeks,” he added.
Phil Langslow, trading director of Cheshire-based County Milk Products, which supplies dairy products to Nestle and Kellogg, said the government’s move is “a step in the right direction.”“.
“Being isolated means that many suppliers who are service providers shipping for us say they can’t handle it. About half of the deliveries we expect. Is not done on a daily basis and we need to scramble to actually get the product to its destination on time.
“If you think of the food chain in the same way, as a chain, and like any other chain, you’re just as good as the weakest link. If you can’t bring the product to market, you’re in trouble. “He told the BBC’s Today Program.
Scotland also launched Exemption system from self-isolationCovers workers in areas such as health and social care.
By testing staff in the food industry daily, Health Minister Sajid Javid said, “We will keep workers at risk while minimizing the confusion caused by the increasing number of cases in the coming weeks.” Stated.