Changes to requirement to isolate & daily contact testing scheme now open
Just as we get used to another new term being added to our lexicon as a result of COVID-19, there have emerged workarounds to the ‘pingdemic’. This will be music to the ears of many employers, workers and customers who have suffered its effects in recent weeks with rubbish remaining uncollected, pubs, bars and restaurants having to close again or further limit bookings, and more besides.
Workplaces involved in providing essential services can now apply to take part in the NHS daily contact testing scheme. These workplaces will include: prisons, food distribution and production, emergency services, transport networks, defence, waste collection, and energy.
There is a plan to roll this out to more workplaces in the future.
Staff at approved workplaces who have been identified as the close contact of someone outside their household who has tested positive for COVID-19 (including those ‘pinged’ by the NHS Test and Trace or COVID-19 apps) can choose to take part in daily contact testing rather than self-isolate.
The conditions are that a worker must:
- take a lateral flow test each day for seven days at an approved testing site within their workplace. (There is training available for employers on the provision of daily testing); or
- self-isolate at home on any days they do not get tested; and
- self-isolate until their first lateral flow test although they can travel to work to take the test.
If the daily test result is negative: workers can attend work.
If the test result is positive or they develop symptoms: they must self-isolate and arrange to take a PCR test.
The scheme is not a replacement for other protocols to minimise the risk of transmission which employers may have in place.
In a further development from 16 August, if an individual receives a contact alert via the NHS COVID-19 app and they are either fully vaccinated, or under 18 and 6 months, or otherwise exempt, they will not have to self-isolate but will be advised to take a PCR test.
Those sites approved for workplace daily contact testing will be able to continue providing this service after 16 August for contacts who are not exempt from self-isolation.