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Isolation rules impact business operations

21st July 2021

Recent government controversy has thrown further doubt over the viability of isolation for many workers.

After Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, recently tested positive for COVID, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor were forced to U-turn on their initial decision not to self-isolate.

Whilst many criticised the hypocrisy of the two leaders, it raised a very valid point about the viability of isolation for predominantly office-based workers, compared to those where physical presence was essential.

The 19th of July saw the end of the majority of lockdown restrictions, prompting greater free movement of the population on public transport, in public areas and in workplaces than had been seen in over a year.

However, the customer-facing staff, charged with working in these environments, are now incredibly exposed to infection and risk missing out on wages or, if integral to the operations of the business, having to shutdown their operations entirely through the 10-day isolation period.

In response to this, the Government have said isolation rules will be considered “on a case-by-case basis”, with businesses having to apply for any exemptions.

However, the number of exemptions granted outside of the NHS is expected to be extremely low.

Notable retail and hospitality firms have also highlighted the mass-isolation of staff, and the subsequent store/venue closures, that have had to happen as a result of a ping on the NHS test and trace app.

Karen Dee, Chief Executive of The Airport Operators Association, said the government “must reconsider and exempt categories of workers…we need clear rules that are workable and easy to implement or there is a risk of unnecessary temporary closures”.

She stated that “applying for each individual for an exemption from self-quarantine if they are ‘pinged’ is simply unworkable.”

As ever, it seems that further clarity is required from the Government to rethink the rules so that they can be practically implemented as the country reopens fully.

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