UPDATED: Changes to self isolation rules aimed at keeping more people at work

Union leaders have criticised the Scottish government over changes to self-isolation rules which allow some close contacts of Covid cases to return to work.

The SNP administration hopes essential staff in crucial roles can return to work to maintain lifeline services and “critical national infrastructure”.

The Scottish government says staff shortages are in danger of putting essential services at risk, such as health and social care, transport and the provision of food supplies.

Exemption will only be granted to double-vaccinated staff members who voluntarily agree not to self isolate.

But Unite Scotland has given its response to the plans, insisting “vaccination is not immunisation.

James O’Connell, Unite industrial officer, said: “There has been a growing number of cases of the delta variant in Scotland and we can’t allow this to spiral out of control.

“While we understand there is a need and desire to return to normality, we have got to remember that vaccination is not immunisation.

“Unite’s members particularly in those vulnerable sectors such as health and social care are extremely worried that we could see a new spike in hospital admissions, and it is the staff on the frontline having to deal with this.”

The Scottish government says the employers’ duty of care to all their employees must be respected.

Before a staff member can return to work, they must:

• 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.
• Have evidence of a negative PCR test.
• Return a daily negative lateral flow test for up to 10 days after exposure.

They should also comply with any PPE requirements, hand hygiene and other infection control measures, and staff unable to isolate from on-going exposure to a Covid-positive household member will not usually be asked to return to work.

Applications may be made via 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: “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.”


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