Daily tests not self-isolation for police, fire, borders, transport and freight staff

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A scheme allowing key workers to avoid Covid self-isolation in England has been significantly expanded following criticism it did not go far enough.

Police, fire, Border Force, transport and freight staff will now be able to join a daily workplace test scheme, whether they are vaccinated or not.

Some 10,000 supermarket depot and food factory workers will also be eligible. Testing is expected to start next week.

Several sectors have warned of staff shortages in recent days.

Thameslink tweeted that fewer trains were able to run “due to unavailability of train crew having an impact across the network” and told the BBC “coronavirus has been affecting our business and colleagues”.

Currently, most people identified as close contacts of someone with coronavirus have to self-isolate for 10 days.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are among those self-isolating after Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive last week.

Mr Javid has tweeted that he has made a “full recovery” and his “symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines”.

Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson, said the government needed to “give clear guidance” on self-isolation rules or “risk making this summer of chaos and confusion even worse”.

Police forces, local authorities, transport providers and supermarkets have been among those calling for a review of the rules to avoid crippling shutdowns or skeleton operations.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said daily testing would keep frontline teams safe while they continued to serve the public and communities.

From 16 August anyone in England who is fully vaccinated – and unvaccinated under-18s – will be able to take daily tests instead of self-isolating. Similar rules come into force in Scotland from 9 August – and in Wales from 7 August.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has joined leading business figures in urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to bring this date forward and end self-isolation for close contacts if they are fully vaccinated.

Agencies

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