Changes are being made to self-isolation rules for close contacts of COVID cases to allow essential staff in critical roles to return to work to maintain lifeline services and critical national infrastructure.
It will be possible to apply to exempt those who work in critical roles where staff shortages are in danger of putting essential services, such as health and social care, transport and the provision of food supplies at risk.
Exemption will only be granted in respect of members of staff who voluntarily agree not to self isolate, and the employers’ duty of care to all their employees must be respected.
Exemptions will be made on a temporary basis and last only for as long as there is an immediate risk to business or service continuity.
Under this new process, before a staff member who is a close contact of a positive case can return to work, they must fulfil the following criteria:
- be fully vaccinated, having had their second dose at least 14 days before exposure
- be asymptomatic, and be in possession of a valid vaccination record (available from NHS Inform here)
- have evidence of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test
- return a daily negative lateral flow test for up to 10 days after exposure
- fully comply with any PPE requirements, hand hygiene and other infection control measures
Staff who cannot reasonably isolate from on-going exposure to a COVID positive household member will not usually be asked to return to work.
Applications can be made via the Scottish Government website and will be required to demonstrate:
- that the organisation meets the definition of CNI as set out here Critical National Infrastructure | CPNI
- how self-isolation is impacting critical functions and services
- what steps have already been taken to address this pressure
- the impact of no action
- the scope of the requested exemption – location, number of staff etc
- whether they are currently engaging with a local IMT regarding outbreak management