The government is “very concerned” about the number of people polled by the NHS app, the business secretary told Sky News.
Speaking to Kay Burley, Kwasi Kwarteng said ministers are “monitoring” the situation and will draw up a list of critical exempt workers “very soon”.
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“The list of exemptions will be quite narrow because obviously you have to draw the line somewhere,” he said.
Downing Street said earlier this week that it would not “produce a list covering individual sectors”, employers should instead turn to government departments to enable workers to effectively bypass COVID-19[female[feminine rules around isolation.
His comments come as retailers warn that they are under “increasing pressure” to keep shelves well stocked amid staff shortages caused by ‘pingemia’.
Industry bosses have warned that supply chains are ‘starting to fail’ due to the number of workers, including truck drivers and meat processing staff, who are cracked by the NHS COVID app -19.
Some shoppers have posted photos of empty supermarket shelves in parts of the country on social media.
Getting bugged by the app means you have to self-isolate for 10 days – but unlike being contacted by Test and Trace, this is a referral rather than a legal requirement.
The latest figures show more than 500,000 people were polled by the app in the week leading up to July 7, raising fears millions of people will be forced out of work as cases of the coronavirus increase.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has now urged the government to change the self-isolation guidelines to help address the issue.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at BRC, said in-store staff and suppliers should be allowed to work even if they receive an alert to self-isolate for 10 days.
The prime minister’s spokesman said on Tuesday that the exemption would be determined on a case-by-case basis, with employers having to approach the relevant government department to see if their workers can continue to work after being identified as close contacts of someone. ‘a. who tested positive for COVID.
The spokesperson said this could include some workers in the food industry, utilities, border staff and the NHS, but there is no blanket exemption for sectors.
In recent weeks, there have been more and more calls to change the isolation rules, as the number of people being asked to quarantine has a crippling effect on businesses.
From August 16, those under 18 and those fully vaccinated will no longer be asked to self-isolate if they come into close contact with someone who tests positive.
Instead, they will be encouraged to take a test. Anyone who tests positive will still be legally required to self-isolate, regardless of their immunization status.