Following on from news that 200 contact testing sites are to be created in England, this has now been ramped up to 2,000 across the country.

A wider array of key workers including staff who work in prisons, waste collection and defence will now be eligible to undertake daily testing instead of self-isolating.

This is a response to staff shortages in critical sectors which has arisen after over half a million people have been told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app in recent weeks.

News last week revealed that dozens of councils across the country have been facing suspensions in rubbish bin collections including Coventry, Manchester, Liverpool as well as some London boroughs.

Currently, workers are made to self-isolate for 10 days after coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive.

However, research supplied by the Government and carried out by the University of Oxford revealed that daily contact testing was just as effective at controlling transmission as the current self-isolation policy.

As such, staff across various sectors including energy, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, chemicals, communication, water, space, fish, veterinary medicine and HMRC will be prioritised for the new testing sites.

This will enable workers who test negative each day under the scheme to continue working.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

Critical workers up and down the country have repeatedly stepped up to the challenge of making sure our key services are delivered and communities are supported.

We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude and will continue to support them to do their jobs safely and securely. This expansion of the daily contact testing centres is vital and hugely welcome.

However, James Bielby, Chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distribution, criticised the policy implemented by the Government, implying that businesses have not yet been informed whether their staff is exempt from self-isolation:

It’s total chaos. There are 15 businesses who were part of the initial run through [of the scheme] on Friday, but there’s supposed to be 500 businesses in total, it’s entirely opaque.

Ben Jones, Principal Economist at the CBI, suggested this scheme needed to be expanded to include all double-jabbed workers:

Relative stock levels are at a record low and expected to fall further still, while the number one worry for many firms at the minute is labour shortages throughout the supply chain as staff self-isolate.

Helping people and businesses live safely with the virus is key to maintaining the confidence needed for economic recovery.

Businesses will continue to face significant disruption without a more effective system for allowing double-jabbed people who are not infectious to continue to work—both in the coming weeks but, crucially, as we head into the autumn and winter months.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.