Boris Johnson faces increasing calls to immediately allow fully vaccinated contacts of coronavirus cases should be exempted from isolation if negative in order to avoid staff crises.
The government announced Thursday that some workers, including those in the food supply chain, will be exempt from Covid’s self-isolation rules.
There are also plans to end self-isolation for people with a double bite and those under 18 from August 16 if they are negative for Covid-19.
But the companies, joined by the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, demand a more immediate end to “pingaemia” by relaxing the isolation rules for all fully vaccinated people.
There is some cross-party support, with former health secretary Jeremy Hunt warning the government it risks “losing social consent” for the isolation if it does not act now.
Hunt’s call was echoed by his Tory colleague Greg Clark, a former business secretary who now chairs the Commons Science and Technology Committee.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One show: “We know that on August 16 a new system will arrive where you can take a test if you are named as a contact and only isolate yourself if you are. positive – I don’t see why we can’t start this now on July 23 rather than wait ”,
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Labor mayor joined with industry bodies including UK Hospitality and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the capital branch of the Federation of Small Businesses to demand a change.
Amid the increase in coronavirus cases, they warned staff shortages in pubs and restaurants were ‘exacerbated’ and leading to a temporary shutdown due to pings of the NHS Covid-19 app.
“The summer months are crucial for the recovery of many businesses and their ability to recover should not be compromised,” they said.
“We therefore ask you to ensure that the necessary tests are in place to allow people who have been doubly vaccinated for more than two weeks and cracked by the NHS Covid app, to immediately return to work, after a negative PCR test,” rather than having to isolate yourself ”.
Calling for a “more pragmatic solution,” UKHospitality Managing Director Kate Nicholls said: “We are now facing a summer of site closures and reduced services, when we should be at a seasonal peak. The industry will do everything possible to provide excellent service, but it will be with one hand tied behind its back.
“Those who are fully vaccinated should be able to test after a ping and, subject to a negative result, continue with their lives. For those who are not fully vaccinated, two negative tests should be enough to return to work. “
Food industry bosses have also called the government’s list of self-isolation exemptions “worse than unnecessary” because supermarket staff have been left behind.
Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said he was “deeply disappointed to see supermarket workers omitted from the list”.
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And British Frozen Food Federation chief executive Richard Harrow said that while more workers would be freed in some parts of the supply chain, others, like supermarket staff, would not.
He said: “This shows yet again that the government does not understand how connected the food supply chain is. Only the opening part is unlikely to solve the overall problem. Also, who is in and who is out, who decides and how do they decide?
“Confusion continues to set in and I have been advised not to have a list until Monday. It is worse than useless.
Reduced hours have been introduced on the railways across England after a series of last minute cancellations due to staff self-isolation.
Transport for London warned against line closures and cancellations this weekend, with over 300 staff in isolation. Thameslink, Southern and Avanti West Coast said they would cut services from Monday.
The Association of Local Governments has warned that services provided by local authorities such as garbage collection, road repairs and park maintenance could be affected.
But doctors have warned that the problem is that the Prime Minister let the virus “tear” and not the “pings” issued by the NHS Covid-19 app.
British Medical Association President Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the isolation figures are a “direct result of the lack of effective government measures that allow the virus to spread across the country.”
Daily tests for emergency service personnel
The government said on Saturday it would open 200 testing sites for frontline emergency service workers – so they can be tested daily and be exempt from self-isolation rules.
Some police, firefighters, border force personnel and transport workers were already eligible for the self-isolation exemption, but only if their employers specified their names and they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Daily testing will keep our frontline teams safe while continuing to serve the public and communities across our country. “
This comes after the government announced it would open up to 500 test sites for food workers.
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