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UK Covid live: minister says list of critical workers exempt from isolation rules will be limited UK Covid live: minister says list of critical workers exempt from isolation rules will be limited
(32 minutes later)
Kwasi Kwarteng says scope of exemptions will be ‘very narrow’, implying that shop workers won’t be included despite pressures caused by ‘pingdemic’Kwasi Kwarteng says scope of exemptions will be ‘very narrow’, implying that shop workers won’t be included despite pressures caused by ‘pingdemic’
Richard Walker, managing director of the supermarket firm Iceland, told the Today programme this morning that although there is not a widespread problem with food shortages in stores now, the problem could soon get worse unless the government addresses the “pingdemic”. He said: Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, is about to make a statement to MPs on coronavirus.
But before he starts Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, says he was surprised a health minister, Helen Whately, made a statement to MPs yesterday without confirming the pay rise for NHS staff. He says the Commons should have been told first.
Zahawi apologises for what happened.
He refers to the department’s “inability” to make a statement yesterday. But he does not explain why Whately did not mention the pay rise.
The Road Haulage Association says lorry drivers should be included in the list of critical workers allowed to use testing as an alternative to isolation coming out today. Referring to shortages in shops, partly caused by drivers not being available, Rod McKenzie, the RHA’s managing director of policy, said:
And another food industry executive told the Today programme this morning that he is telling staff told to isolate by the NHS Covid app to take a test and carry on working if they are negative.
This is contrary to government advice, which is that people pinged by the app should isolate.
Andrew Selley, chief executive of Bidfood, a food distribution company, said that he considered his staff critical workers. He told the programme:
When it was put to him that this policy was contrary to government advice, Selley replied:
As PA Media reports, Selley said 100 staff from around 20 depots across the country were off isolating yesterday, presenting a “real challenge” with deliveries arriving late, or even the next day.
Richard Walker, managing director of the supermarket firm Iceland, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that although there is not a widespread problem with food shortages in stores now, the problem could soon get worse unless the government addresses the “pingdemic”. He said:
Good morning. On Monday Boris Johnson said that some critical workers would be allowed to use testing as an alternative to isolation after contact with someone testing positive, to save them from the “pingdemic”. But he refused to give details. No 10 said a bit more at lobby on Tuesday, but at PMQs yesterday Sir Keir Starmer said he had read the briefing several times and “I haven’t a clue what it means”.Good morning. On Monday Boris Johnson said that some critical workers would be allowed to use testing as an alternative to isolation after contact with someone testing positive, to save them from the “pingdemic”. But he refused to give details. No 10 said a bit more at lobby on Tuesday, but at PMQs yesterday Sir Keir Starmer said he had read the briefing several times and “I haven’t a clue what it means”.
This morning Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, was doing the morning interview round for No 10 and he said that today guidance will be published saying which critical workers will be exempt from the current isolation rules. He said:This morning Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, was doing the morning interview round for No 10 and he said that today guidance will be published saying which critical workers will be exempt from the current isolation rules. He said:
But, when asked on the Today programme if the food industry would be exempt, he refused to say. And earlier, in an interview on BBC Breakfast, he said the list of people exempt would be “very narrow”. He said:But, when asked on the Today programme if the food industry would be exempt, he refused to say. And earlier, in an interview on BBC Breakfast, he said the list of people exempt would be “very narrow”. He said:
If the food industry is not included on the critical workers list, retailers will be disappointed. With supermarkets under increasing pressure, partly because of the pingdemic, to keep their shelves stocked, retailers want an exemption. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, told BBC Breakfast this morning:If the food industry is not included on the critical workers list, retailers will be disappointed. With supermarkets under increasing pressure, partly because of the pingdemic, to keep their shelves stocked, retailers want an exemption. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, told BBC Breakfast this morning:
Here is the agenda for the day.Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The ONS publishes the latest quarterly crime figures for England and Wales.9.30am: The ONS publishes the latest quarterly crime figures for England and Wales.
10.30am: Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, makes a statement to MPs.10.30am: Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, makes a statement to MPs.
11am: NHS test and trace publishes its latest performance figures.11am: NHS test and trace publishes its latest performance figures.
After 1.30pm: MPs begin a backbench debate on the public administration and constitutional affairs committee report (pdf) making recommendations for the Covid inquiry.After 1.30pm: MPs begin a backbench debate on the public administration and constitutional affairs committee report (pdf) making recommendations for the Covid inquiry.
2pm: Public Health England publishes its latest weekly Covid surveillance report.2pm: Public Health England publishes its latest weekly Covid surveillance report.
Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently and that will probably be the case today. For more coronavirus developments, do follow our global Covid live blog.Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently and that will probably be the case today. For more coronavirus developments, do follow our global Covid live blog.
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