UK’s logistics sector calls for Covid isolation exemption amidst ‘ping-demic’

By Damian Brett

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The UK’s logistics sector is calling on the government to exempt workers from Covid isolation rules.

The call comes as the country faces what is being dubbed a ‘ping-demic’ — a reference to receiving a ‘ping’ from the health service’s Covid app notifying people they should isolate — after most lockdown restrictions were lifted on July 19.

The lifting of restrictions came just as case numbers were beginning to increase, causing the number of people needing to isolate to rise.

The latest figures show that around 620,000 people had been asked to isolate in the last week alone.

This has had an impact on many sectors, forcing some businesses to temporarily close and supermarkets noting limitations on some products.

Logistics, in particular warehouse operations, is one sector that has been hit.

Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK, said: “Many of our workers operate in isolation and the risk of infection passing between them is very low – however, for those in warehouses and distribution centres, the risk is higher.

“Having deemed logistics a ‘key’ industry at the start of the pandemic, the government should be maintaining this designation and providing a blanket exemption for the industry.

“Those with two vaccinations and recording negative test results should be allowed to continue to work.

“This will provide resilience for the UK’s supply chain and prevent unnecessary administration time being wasted.

There is a proposed scheme that could allow some to apply for an exemption, but Logistics UK said applying for the scheme was complex.

De Jong said: “The proposed process to apply for exemption from isolation, following notifications from the NHS app, appears time consuming, and will not help logistics businesses which are already working at full stretch to keep the country supplied with all that it needs. We are talking to government about streamlining this process right now to protect the integrity of the supply chain.”

One UK cargo handler that Air Cargo News spoke to said that it had experienced issues with staff needing to isolate at other times during the pandemic but it wasn’t currently a problem.

He said that the company had kept its Covid procedures in place to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak amongst its staff.

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