Daily contact testing expands to 2,000 sites

The government has expanded daily contact testing with 1,200 new sites across frontline sectors, helping to avoid disruption to crucial services.

Workplace daily contact testing sites will be expanded to a total of 2,000 sites across the country, with prisons, waste collection and defence among the critical sectors prioritised for the newest sites. This expansion follows last week’s initial announcement of 800 sites for the food industry, transport workers, Border Force staff, frontline police and fire services.

Daily contact testing using rapid lateral flow tests will enable eligible workers who have received alerts from the NHS Covid 19 app or have been called by NHS Test and Trace and told they are a contact and to isolate, to continue working if they test negative each day.

In addition to critical staff working in prisons, defence and waste collection, people working in energy, pharmaceuticals, telecoms, chemicals, communications, water, space, fish, veterinary medicine and HMRC will also be prioritised for the 1,200 new daily contact testing sites.

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.”

James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:  “Councils continue to work hard to try and keep services running as best as possible, while protecting the health and wellbeing of our workforce. However, the large numbers of close contacts being required to self-isolate is having an impact on some council services due to staff shortages.

“Directors of public health, working in councils, are already under huge pressure as a result of the need to sign off on self-isolation exemptions for social care staff as well as many daily enquiries from other employers in their local area who believe their staff should be exempt. Clarity is urgently needed about what their role will be with regards to the application of exemptions locally while messaging from government must be crystal clear to avoid raising unrealistic expectations. The exemption approval process must also be quick and clear to understand.

“While we continue to discuss with government the implications of this guidance for local government, it appears it will not help alleviate the pressure on some important - albeit non-critical - local services. Residents will need to bear with us if they experience disruption to some services, if councils are forced to prioritise services that protect the most vulnerable in their communities.”

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