Confusion over who qualifies for food industry COVID app exemptions

Processing plants are unsure whether their workers will be exempt from self-isolating if they’re ‘pinged’ by the NHS app. 

The British Meat Processors Association said key details and clear guidance was missing about how the exemptions announced by George Eustice will apply to individual companies and workers.

So far it’s been announced that key workers in ‘about 500 sites’ in the food supply chain will be allowed to ‘test to return to work’ instead of having to self-isolate after they’ve been ‘pinged’ by the App or contacted by Test & Trace. According to Eustice, this includes about 200 food production sites. 

It’s also not yet clear which workers at other sites that are not on that list will be exempt from self-isolation. The BMPA said it understood that companies will need to apply for exemption for individual workers on a job-by-job and person-by-person basis “but we don’t know what jobs would be eligible”.

“Right now, we urgently need Government to publish more information giving clear, unambiguous guidance on which sites are exempt, which job roles qualify for exemption and exactly how these new rules will be applied,” said the organisation in a statement. “We also question the Government’s decision to end the provision of free lateral flow testing kits to companies last Monday just as the ‘pingdemic’ started to take hold. This just makes it more difficult and more expensive for companies to provide workplace testing and will inevitably start filtering through into higher food prices.”


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