boris johnsonA senior minister has said the government will stick to its plan to keep self-isolation rules in place till August 16, even as a “pingedemic” crisis has arisen due to staff shortages.
business secretary quasi quartengo Insisted that people must self-isolate for 10 days if “pinged” by the NHS COVID-19 app for another month – despite pleas from businesses and unions to allow the double-jabbed immediately to escape the quarantine.
Iceland has revealed it has been forced to close some stores, Green King has closed 33 pubs, and some London Underground lines have canceled trains – all due to staff shortages due to the app .
“There is no commotion on this,” Mr Quarteng told LBC on Monday. “It is going to be August 16. We have to be extra cautious, so we are asking people to self-isolate till August 16.”
Asked whether four weeks was a “long time” for businesses to deal with staff shortages, Mr. Quarteng said: “It is, it is. When I talk to businesses, people say it all the time. Let’s raise it – this is the biggest issue.”
He continued: “But the health experts we’ve spoken to have a very clear reason for 16 August and we stick to it. It’s not going to last forever. On 16 August the restrictions were completely lifted. What we have to do is stick to the plan we have in place.”
CBI urged the government not to allow double-pocketed persons to self-isolate for 10 days immediately instead of waiting till August 16 for the change in the rules. “Against the backdrop of shortage of staff, speed is of the essence,” said CBI chairman Lord Karan Billimoria.
Iceland’s managing director Richard Walker said it had become necessary to close some stores as about 1,000 workers were self-isolating. He urged the government to move to a “test and release” model.
“Employee absenteeism increased 50 percent last week and the trend is fast and accelerating – impacting not only our own partners but our entire supply chain and logistics network,” Mr Walker said.
Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of pub chain Green King, told BBC Radio 4. Today The program is that 33 pubs have been closed due to a shortage of staff. “It is a problem and I think it could get worse. It is disruptive to business.”
The Rail, Maritime and Transportation Union said Saturday’s closure of the Metropolitan Line after key workers pinged it showed how transport services were “at a knife’s edge”.
Delays were reported on both the Metropolitan and Central lines on Monday due to more train cancellations after drivers were pinged.
Asked about his meetings with business heads, who want to move the date to 16 August, Mr. Quarteng said: “I said I would represent in the government and see what can be done. But we have collectively A decision has been taken. I think it is the right decision.”
Earlier on Monday, Vaccines Minister Nadim Zhawi suggested that there would be no change in the sensitivity of the NHS COVID app, with fewer alerts sent after calling it to dial.
However, it has emerged that frontline NHS staff in England who have been double-vaccinated will be allowed to work if pinged in “extraordinary circumstances”.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the exemption would only apply in cases where staff absenteeism could result in a “significant risk of harm”.
The deputy chief medical officer has said that NHS staff in Scotland will soon receive new guidance on self-isolation if they have been in close contact with a coronavirus case. Dr Dave Caesar said the new advice would come “in the next day or two”.