It is ‘crucial’ that those who are pinged via the NHS COVID-19 app self-isolate, despite the lifting of restrictions on 19 July, the Government has stated.
The only exception to this is critical workers such as railway signallers and air traffic controllers who may in exceptional circumstances be able to leave self-isolation to attend work, under new plans to prevent serious disruption to vital public services. This will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated (defined as someone who is 14 days post-final dose) and will be solely so that they can attend work. They will otherwise need to continue to self-isolate as directed by NHS Test and Trace. These plans include nurses and other healthcare workers.
Read more: Almost 100% of people have antibodies after second vaccine
‘Throughout this global pandemic, critical workers across the country have been doing the extraordinary by delivering vital services – from policing the streets to keeping our transport links open,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.
‘These individuals form the backbone of many of our most vital services and, as we learn to live with this virus, it’s right we do everything in our power to protect services from disruption by allowing our fully vaccinated critical workers to keep doing their important work.’
The plans to allow frontline NHS and social care staff to work rather than self-isolate in exceptional circumstances has been criticised by several organisations such as UNISON.
Read more: Face masks and ventilation ‘vital in health and care settings’ beyond 19 July
‘Rather than a hell-for-leather rush, changes to restrictions should have been managed sensibly in stages. Any moves towards changing isolation rules for health and care workers must be voluntary. Staff shouldn’t be bullied to come back,’ said UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea.
‘In the care sector, many reckless employers will see it as a green light to pressure staff who’ve been pinged to come into work. A reduction in isolation must go hand in hand with improved safety measures such as enhanced PPE, and staff must be regularly tested during working hours. With infections increasing, the public must continue to play their part in limiting Covid spread by wearing face masks.’