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The Government has confirmed that workers will qualify for a self-isolation exemption where they carry out a ‘critical role’.

The exemption is available from Monday 19 July 2021 in "circumstances where there would be a serious risk of harm to public welfare if people in critical roles are unable to go to their workplace". It is not expected to be used on a large scale; numbers of workers it will apply to will be “very low”.

Contrary to initial indications, the Government will not create a list of employers whose workers this measure could apply to. Instead, employers will need to contact the Government department for their sector to ask for an exemption for their worker. It could include certain workers in food, utility, border staff and the NHS but there will be no blanket exemption for any sector. Exemptions will be considered on a case by case basis.

The exemption will enable the worker to continue to go to work during the period that they would otherwise be self-isolating. It does not exempt them from isolation for any purpose. It only applies to self-isolation upon receipt of a notification of being a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. All other types of self-isolation requirement are not covered by the exemption.

In order to be exempt, the worker must be fully vaccinated (which is defined as 14 days post second vaccination) and must provide a negative PCR test and, subsequently, provide negative daily lateral flow tests.

From 16 August 2021, fully vaccinated individuals will not be advised to self-isolate when identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, as long as they can provide a negative PCR test result.