The move comes in the wake of huge number of people across the UK being ‘pinged’ by an app. This tells them they have been near to someone with coronavirus and subsequently being required to self-isolate.
In an announcement late yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care said that “Where employers believe the self-isolation of certain key employees as contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, they should contact the relevant government department.”
A range of industries are given in the list by the Department of Health, including energy, digital infrastructure, waste, water, essential chemicals, emergency services and local government.
Employers have to apply to the relevant department – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the waste industry – and give details of:
· the number of people who it is proposed would leave self-isolation
· the roles those individuals need to perform
· the impact failure to do this would have and when this impact is likely to materialise (for example, is it already an issue or likely to materialise in the coming days)
It would appear likely that Defra could receive a large number of requests to the email address to which the requests are to be sent, firstname.lastname@example.org as the Department is handling five sectors: food production and supply; waste; water; veterinary medicines; and essential chemicals.
Roles and workplaces
The government advice continues: “The relevant department will work with the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health and Social Care to agree the roles and workplaces that are likely to meet the criteria set out above on a daily basis. The relevant department will then determine whether individual cases meet the criteria set out above. Decisions will be made rapidly on a case-by-case basis and kept under review.
“Where a specific case meets the criteria, the employer will receive a letter from the relevant department setting out the named critical workers designated and telling them what measures they and those workers need to follow.
“Unless employers have a letter from a government department on which the workers are specifically named, this policy does not apply and employees should self-isolate as directed.”
Latest Department of Health test and trace guidance: NHS Test and Trace in the workplace – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)