UK company calls for shorter self-isolation period for Covid

Business leaders call on government to reduce self-isolation period for people in England who contract Covid-19 from seven to five days, in a bid to reduce labor shortages in the industry .

The Federation of Small Businesses said Sir Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, should review the case for a five-day self-isolation period, as recently recommended by the US authorities.

The UK government last month reduced the period of self-isolation after a positive Covid test for double and triple vaccinated people in England from 10 to seven days, in an attempt to ease staff pressures on businesses and organizations. utilities as the Omicron coronavirus variant spreads through the population.

The NHS has been hit by significant labor shortages because staff have contracted Omicron, as have companies in industries such as hospitality, retail and transport.

Craig Beaumont, head of external affairs at the FSB, said Britain should follow the lead of a five-day self-isolation period recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month. .

“This is what is happening in the United States – it is the same science, it is the same variant, we are not experts in public policy but we urge the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser to make a proper assessment of that and see if it is possible, ”he added.

Beaumont also said ministers must address shortages in lateral flow testing after businesses and workers struggled to get them for the past fifteen weeks.

Fully vaccinated people can only end self-isolation after one week if they have had two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.

Richard Walker, managing director of frozen food retailer Iceland, said absences at the company had dropped from 700 before Christmas to 1,700 now, or about 6% of the workforce.

“The government must change the isolation policy,” he added, urging ministers to reduce the period from seven days to five.

Matthew Fell, director general of policy at CBI, said members wanted the self-isolation time to be reduced from seven to five days.

“We want it to be kept under review, but we’ve always been clear that it should be guided by medical experts – it would be doomed if we ended up putting more infections in the body. public, ”he added.

Kate Nicholls, managing director of UKHospitality, a trade body, also backed the case for a review of the self-isolation period, saying hospitality businesses had suffered “massively depressed sales” during the peak season. parties, putting pressure on businesses and jobs.

Tim Martin, executive chairman of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, said there was staff pressure but no pubs and very few kitchens had been forced to close as a result.

About one in ten railway workers is currently on sick leave due to Covid, according to the latest figures from the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators.

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, said on Monday that the government would continue to review the length of the period of self-isolation in England. “But the bottom line is that we don’t want to release people into the workplace while they are still contagious,” he added.

The UK Health Safety Agency set out its rationale for a seven day isolation period in a recent blog, stating: ‘In the UK the self-isolation’ clock ‘begins when a person starts. to show symptoms of Covid or gets a positive test, whichever comes first.

“But in the United States, the advice is to self-isolate for five days after you get a positive test, which can be a few days after the first symptoms.”

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