News

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 23 July 2021

Media Summary

  Which key workers are exempt from self-isolation?
Independent, Clea Skopeliti, 23 July 2021

The Independent reports that the UK Government announced that some critical workers will be exempt from self-isolation.

The announcement comes after 600,000 people were instructed to self-isolate by the NHSCovid-19 app last week and there have been warnings from trade bodies and industry leaders that the ‘pingdemic’ is triggering staff shortages in vital areas, including retail and the NHS.

The article highlights that the exemption will apply to some fully vaccinated workers employed in key industries, including medicines and medical devices.

Employers will need to write to relevant government departments to have applications for exemption signed off and then the government will send out letters to some workplaces approving employees who are exempt.

Government guidance stated the policy “will not cover all or in most cases even the majority of workers in critical sectors”.

Workers who are exempt will be allowed to leave quarantine to travel to work and do their jobs after a negative daily test. If they test positive, they must immediately enter quarantine.

The article says that the policy is expected to be in place until 16th August 2021, when self-isolation rules will be eased for fully vaccinated people to allow them to avoid quarantining after being in contact with Covid-19.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said critical workers “form the backbone of many of our most vital services and, as we learn to live with this virus, its right we do everything in our power to protect services from disruption by allowing our fully vaccinated critical workers to keep doing their important work.”

This was also reported by Sky News and BBC News.

Northern Ireland set to lose access to 2,000 medicines
Financial Times, Sarah Neville, George Parker and Mehreen Khan, 22 July 2021

The Financial Times reports that about 2,000 medicines currently offered to patients in Northern Ireland are set to be withdrawn due to the post-Brexit red tape.

Members of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) told the UK Health Department that they would stop supplying medicines to Northern Ireland because of the increased cost and complexity.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen informed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Brussels would not renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol in his Brexit deal, raising concerns of serious disruption to drug supply.

Under the protocol, Northern Ireland will be treated as part of the EU regulatory system for medicines following a grace period that expires in December. Drugs made in Great Britain will have to be licensed separately and pass safety checks for use in Northern Ireland.

Chief Executive of the BGMA, Mark Samuels, suggested that extra warehousing, laboratory testing and technical specialists would be needed as a result of these regulations. Additionally, he said these new regulations could make “supplying Northern Ireland in many cases unviable in the longer term.”

Mark Samuels said: “With every week that went by, more companies were deciding to remove medicines, I’m not aware we’ve ever had this scale of withdrawal in one go before.”

Downing Street reported that Boris Johnson urged Ursula von der Leyen to “work with the UK” to quickly solve trading problems.

As well as this, the UK Government published a paper calling for most checks to be removed on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The European Commission told EU diplomats that it would escalate legal proceedings against the UK if the Government breaks the terms of the protocol and the withdrawal agreement.

 

 Parliamentary Coverage

 

There was no parliamentary coverage today. 

 

Full Coverage

Which key workers are exempt from self-isolation?
Independent, Clea Skopeliti, 23 July 2021

After more than 600,000 people were instructed to self-isolate by the NHSCovid-19 app last week as UK cases soared, the government has created a framework for exemption for some critical workers.

The exemption will only apply to some fully vaccinated workers employed in a number of key industries, as rising infections and the end of lockdown combine to cause disruption in the supply chains of factories, supermarkets and meat processing plants among others.

The government has stressed that it is not a “blanket exemption” for all workers in a sector, but instead only applies to named employees in a specifically approved workplaces who have had their final vaccine dose at least 14 days ago.

Others will have to continue to self-isolate as normal after being identified as a close contact of a person infected with Covid-19.

The sectors include energy, civil nuclear, digital infrastructure, food production and supply, waste, water, veterinary medicines, essential chemicals, essential transport, medicines, medical devices, clinical consumable supplies, emergency services, border control, essential defence outputs, and local government.

Employers will need to write to relevant government departments to have applications for exemption signed off. The government will then send out letters to some workplaces naming employees working in critical areas whose absence would seriously affectedly the delivery of essential services or other “functionings of the state”, including national security.

The government guidance published on Thursday said the policy “will not cover all or in most cases even the majority of workers in critical sectors”.

Workers who are exempt will be allowed to leave quarantine to travel to work and do their jobs after a negative daily test, but must otherwise continue to stay at home. If they test positive, they must immediately enter quarantine.

The policy is expected to be in place until 16 August, when a wider easing of self-isolation rules will be introduced to allow all fully vaccinated people to avoid quarantining after contact with Covid-19.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said: “Throughout this global pandemic, critical workers across the country have been doing the extraordinary by delivering vital services – from policing the streets to keeping our transport links open.

“These individuals form the backbone of many of our most vital services and, as we learn to live with this virus, its right we do everything in our power to protect services from disruption by allowing our fully vaccinated critical workers to keep doing their important work.”

Separately, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a new testing scheme for food industry workers – allowing staff deemed critical to the supply chain to avoid self-isolation if “pinged”.

Following an emergency meeting with supermarket bosses on Thursday, ministers said sites for daily testing would be set up this week – including at the biggest supermarket distribution centres – to allow staff to keep coming into work if they test negative.

The moves come amid warnings from trade bodies and industry leaders that the ‘pingdemic’, which is accompanying the pandemic, is triggering staff shortages in vital areas include retail and the NHS. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said on Thursday that the shortages were “putting increasing pressure on retailers’ ability to maintain opening hours and keep shelves stocked”.

Meanwhile the British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA) has said that 5 per cent to 10 per cent of staff in some plants have been forced to isolate, compounding existing staff shortages caused by factors including Brexit.

Around 70 per cent of adults have now received two vaccine doses.

Northern Ireland set to lose access to 2,000 medicines
Financial Times, Sarah Neville, George Parker and Mehreen Khan, 22 July 2021

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HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin –  23 July 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

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