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Alliance calls for early years sectors to be included in self-isolation exemptions

By Rachel Lawlersmartphone covid 19 self isolation

The Alliance has criticised the government decision not to include the early years in its list of "critical sectors" that may be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate after being in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care said: "In the small number of situations where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, a limited number of named workers may be able to leave self-isolation under specific controls for the purpose of undertaking critical work only."

The government list of "critical sectors" included in this exemption are:

  • energy
  • civil nuclear
  • digital infrastructure
  • food production
  • waste
  • water
  • vetinary medicine
  • essential transport
  • essential chemicals
  • medicines
  • clinical consumable supplies
  • emergency services
  • border control
  • essential defence outputs
  • local government

Those working in these sectors will only be able to avoid self-isolating if their employer has received a letter from the relevant government department for their sector and if they have received both of their Covid-19 vaccines. The exemption does not apply to those who have tested positive or those that develop symptoms.

The scheme is expected to remain in place until 16 August, when those who have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine will no longer be required to self-isolate after contact with a positive case.

The decision not to include early years providers, who will be providing childcare for many workers in these sectors, has been labelled "absurd" by the Alliance.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “We are aware that the number of early years staff being asked to self-isolate is having a detrimental impact on providers’ ability to offer the essential early care and education that parents rely on. That includes the children of those key workers being asked to leave isolation for the purposes of keeping our essential services running.

“Since July of last year, the early years sector has been considered essential. So essential that even when schools closed, our settings were asked to remain open to all children - in spite of the risks to providers and their families - to ensure the country continued to run. That’s why it is absurd that government would not now include those same people in this exemption for critical workers.

“Early years providers continue to offer an essential service throughout the summer months when schools are closed. We are in conversation with government to understand why the early years has not been included in the exemptions, and how settings can be supported to navigate this period of rapidly rising case rates.”

Find out more
Read the guidance on NHS Test & Trace in the workplace in full