Cold Chain Federation calls for clarity over self-isolation rules for food logistics sector

London, UK: The government has ruled out drawing up a list of critical jobs that will be exempt from full self-isolation if workers are “pinged “by the NHS Test and Trace app.

Instead, businesses will have to apply to government departments for staff to be granted exemptions from coronavirus self-isolation rules.

The Cold Chain Federation moved quickly to ask for more information on how the system will work and whether food logistics workers will be exempt.

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the CCF, told the BBC: “What is the application process for businesses to use this? Who will qualify? Do you have to prove you are severely affected? How long will it take?

“If it’s not simple and quick it will not help and most businesses will have to ignore it.

“It does feel like this is another major scale initiative being built on the hoof and we will try our best to help government to make it work, but time is not on our side.”

On Twitter Brennan added: “The next three weeks are a critical period for food supplies as people adjust to ‘freedom day’ and the start of the school holidays – a complex exemption scheme for a small number of people won’t make a difference.”

“It’s a fine judgement we understand that – we believe that an exemption should only apply to double vaccinated, daily tested – employees for the next three weeks until restrictions are removed for everyone else. If this isn’t the nature of the scheme it was wrong to brief overnight that food supply workers would be exempt – it just adds to the confusion. The Cold Chain Federation continues to seek clarity and advise members.”.

Road Haulage Association policy director Rod McKenzie stresses the importance of lorry drivers as the “pingdemic” continues and argues that, as critical workers, they should be exempt from self-isolation if double jabbed with a negative test.

Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK said: “The proposed process to apply for exemption from isolation, following notifications from the NHS app, appears time consuming, and will not help logistics businesses which are already working at full stretch to keep the country supplied with all that it needs. Having deemed logistics a “key” industry at the start of the pandemic, the government should be maintaining this designation and providing a blanket exemption for the industry, with the proviso that any workers suffering from COVID-19 symptoms should follow the necessary protocols as before. This will provide resilience for the UK’s supply chain and prevent unnecessary administration time being wasted.”

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In the August issue of Cold Chain News, out now, Gist reveals that it is offering incentives of up to £5,000 for HGV drivers to join its business from August in order to boost capability and resources to deliver chilled foods and fresh produce. bit.ly/3z6j8Si #coldchain

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