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Coronavirus / Self-isolation rules to change in bid to protect essential services

CHANGES are being made to self-isolation rules for close contacts of Covid cases which will allow essential staff in critical roles to return to work.

The Scottish Government said 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.

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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.

Health, social care and local services will have a different process and the government said this will be communicated separately.

The government said strict conditions will apply; staff must be double-vaccinated and in receipt of their second dose at least two weeks previously.

They will also require to have a negative PCR test and to agree to undertake daily lateral flow tests.

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Applications may be made through the Scottish Government website.

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.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is essential that lifeline services and critical national infrastructure are maintained and we are implementing these changes now – ahead of possible changes to self-isolation rules for close contacts that may apply more generally in future – to ensure staff shortages do not put key services at risk.

“We have seen significant staff shortages in a small number of organisations in recent days and we have worked with them to protect services.

“Applications for exemptions are being considered from today and we will consider applications as they come in.

“Clinical evidence tells us we can safely and effectively release some critical staff from self-isolation, with appropriate safeguards.

“However, this is a very limited change at this stage, to be applied on a case by case basis and only where absolutely necessary.

“We will not allow key services to be threatened by staff shortages but equally we must continue to protect public health.”

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