Retail staff will not be exempt from Covid-19 self-isolation rules

Retail workers – including those at essential outlets such as supermarkets - are not part of the keyworkers who will be exempt from the government’s Covid-19 self-isolation rules.

However, 10,000 people employed in the food supply chain, including workers at supermarket depots and at manufacturing plants, will be exempt from the rules according to new government guidance released today.

The government guidance allows individuals in 16 critical sectors – such as transport, emergency services, and energy – to receive special exemptions from self-isolation.

The exemptions mean workers who are told to self-isolate by the app or contacted by NHS Test and Trace will be able to continue working if they test negative and will be able to do daily Covid testing instead of isolating.

The news comes after many UK retailers, including Iceland and M&S warned of a “pingdemic”, where the government’s Covid-19 self-isolation policy could lead to shortages.

George Eustace, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, told Sky News that the measures will initially impact 15 “priority testing sites” and will later be implemented at 150 supermarket depots and “several hundred” food manufacturing facilities.

“The problem is that the government are focusing at the moment entirely on a very small number of supermarket distribution centres,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Retailers (ACS). “That must be extended to our supply chain as well.”

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