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warehouse worker

The government has expanded its scheme for allowing key workers to be exempt from the so-called ‘pingdemic’ self-isolation edict created by the NHS Covid-19 app.

Freight workers join food production and supermarket staff now counted as essential workers allowed to use the daily workplace test scheme to avoid needing to self-isolate for 10 days if pinged by the NHS app, the BBC reports

The handling of the pingdemic’s resulting staff-shortage crisis and introduction of the new exemption scheme has been branded an “absolute disaster” by supply chain and transport industry leaders, the Guardian reports

Despite this, the BBC reports that supermarket shortages are not widespread. 

Warehouse staff seek exemption

The inclusion of freight workers in the ‘exempt’ list comes as warehousing trade body the UK Warehousing association (UKWA) makes the case for logistics workers to also be exempt.

Clare Bottle, the recently-installed chief executive of the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), has written to Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport, arguing that logistics workers should be exempt from self-isolation.

Bottle argued that prime minister Boris Johnson had promised that critical workers who are fully vaccinated would be able to avoid self-isolating when recommended to do so by the Track & Trace app.

However, it was later explained that this would only apply to a “very low number of people” and employers would be obliged to make individual applications for the exemption.


With reportedly thousands of workers having to self-isolate, pressure was on the government to reconsider its position on supply chain workers on Friday (23 July) after it published a list of 16 sectors whose fully-vaccinated workers may be exempt from isolation if ‘pinged’.

Nearly 620,000 people were pinged by the app earlier ths month, causing food shortages in supermarkets.

The initially-exempted sectors included supply chain workers in food production, energy, civil nuclear, digital infrastructure, waste, water, veterinary medicines, essential chemicals, essential transport, medicines and medical devices.

August deadline

This exemption process is intended to run until 16 August 2021 – the date scheduled for lifting quarantine for double-vaccinated people that is at risk of being delayed.