Workers who self-isolate will be able to take daily tests under new programs to reduce staff shortages.
The Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) held a meeting with supermarket leaders on Thursday and pledged to take action to support the resilience of the food supply chain.
Industry bosses had pressured the government to end mandatory 10-day isolation for some workers as businesses up and down the country began to experience supply problems and forced shutdowns in due to the pandemic.
Ministers have already identified “priority” sites, including supermarket distribution centers, where testing will begin this week, eventually expanding to 500 locations.
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The move will allow staff to perform daily tests so they can continue their vital work of providing food for the nation.
This means that all workers who have received an alert from the NHS Covid 19 app to isolate or who have been called by Test and Trace will be able to continue working if they are negative.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Food companies across the country have been the hidden heroes of the pandemic. We work closely with industry to enable staff to perform their essential work safely through daily testing.
“The past 18 months have shown that we have a very resilient food supply chain. There is enough food in the system and people can and should shop normally. “
Health and Social Affairs Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Throughout this global pandemic, workers in our food and beverage sectors have overcome enormous challenges and have gone out of their way to keep our shelves fully stocked and our refrigerators full.
“As we manage this virus and do all we can to break the chains of transmission, daily contact testing of workers in this vital sector will help minimize the disruption caused by the increase in cases in the weeks to come, while ensuring that workers are not endangered. ”
It comes after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said a “very narrow” list of sectors whose workers will be exempt from isolation rules would be published.
He said he would not “anticipate” the details when asked if the food industry would participate.