Businesses are to be told on Thursday whether their staff could qualify for “critical worker” status, enabling them to leave self-isolation in England if they are double-vaccinated to avert major disruption to food supplies.
Overnight, reports and pictures emerged of some empty supermarket shelves, blamed on the hundreds of thousands of people “pinged” or contacted by test and trace and told to stay at home due to the rapidly rising number of Covid cases, which are at their highest level since January 2021. Industries from petrol stations to the postal service have also reported being affected by absences.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said he was “very concerned” by some of the scenes inside shops. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not a universal thing – I don’t want people to get the impression that every shelf in every supermarket is bare, that’s not the case. But we are certainly concerned about instances of shortages.”
For days, the government has promised to publish further guidance about which firms can ask workers to leave isolation if they are fully inoculated to prevent chaos to councils and companies given the rapidly dwindling workforce they are able to draw on.
Source: The Guardian