Today (23 July), the UK announced that staff involved in securing food supply will now be added to the COVID isolation exemption list – with the exception of supermarket workers
Currently, the only other sector with exemption to isolation rules is healthcare.
Secretary of Business, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “We are very concerned about some developments, but I don’t want people to get the impression that every shelf in every supermarket is bare, that’s not the case.”
Do not have to be fully vaccinated
But in the wake of concerns about potentially empty shelves in supermarkets, the UK Government has now added people who work at food depots and manufacturers to their list of exemptions. This means that if pinged by the Test and Trace app, individuals can take a COVID test and continue working if they test negative. They do not have to be fully vaccinated.
A similar policy is in place for frontline healthcare staff, who can continue working with a negative test and double-jabbed status.
However, shop workers in the food industry are not part of this new exemption. If a shop worker in a supermarket is pinged and told to isolate, they still have to follow those instructions.
Mixed reactions to the new policy
Iceland boss Richard Walker said: “The food supply chain only works if teams are in place to support at each stage – there’s no point in fixing the manufacturing and logistics issues if there is no one to put products on the shelves, serve customers at the till and deliver to their homes.”
After 16 August, double-jabbed individuals will be exempt from isolation if they test negative for the virus – so this new way of working will hold until the new policy of test and release comes in.
The British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA) CEO Nick Allen said: “On top of the underlying worker shortage, we’re also hearing from some members that between 5% and 10% of their workforce have been ‘pinged’ by the (health service) app and asked to self-isolate.”