More Workers Exempt from Quarantine to Avoid Staff Shortages

The British government has sought to ease food supply pressures in England by exempting more than 10,000 workers from quarantine rules that had led to staff shortages and empty shelves and fears of panic-buying, AP reported. In an announcement late Thursday following mounting pressure from increasingly vexed retailers, the government outlined plans for daily Covid-19 testing of critical food industry workers that will effectively allow those who test negative to continue working even if they have been notified on their phones to self-isolate due to contact with someone with the virus.

The move, along with a limited relaxation of self-isolation rules for "critical workers" in other key sectors and vital public services came amid growing concerns within government of the impact of the so-called 'pingdemic' on many key sectors of the British economy.

Many critics say the app has being unfairly singled out and is a distraction from the fact that the UK is in the midst of a third surge of the pandemic as result of the spread of the more contagious delta variant and the lifting of lockdown restrictions. With daily infections predicted by the government to at least double to 100,000 this summer, the number of people being pinged by the app will inevitably grow, potentially to more than 1m a week.

Amid the resurgence of the virus across the country, hundreds of thousands of people, including British PM Boris Johnson, are having to self-isolate for 10 days after being advised by the National Health Service's test and trace app that they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

It was primarily concerns over food supplies that drove the government's change in approach as more and more workers, including...

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