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Updated Guidance on Daily Contact Testing Scheme for Workers in Essential Services

on Friday, 20 August 2021.

Updates to the NHS Test and Trace in the workplace guidance have recently been made to reflect the Government's decision to roll out daily contact testing for workers in essential services, as an alternative to self-isolation.

You can read the guidance here.

The scheme will be available for workers in industries such as food distribution and production, emergency services, transport networks, defence, prisons, waste collection and energy.

The decision comes following the results of an independent study on daily testing in schools, using on-site testing, which shows it is as effective as self-isolation in limiting onward transmission of COVID-19.

Testing will only be available for workplaces that have obtained approval to take part in the scheme. Staff at approved workplaces who have had close contact with someone outside their household who has tested positive for COVID-19, and who are not exempt from self-isolation, will be able to choose whether to take part in daily contact testing rather than having to self-isolate. The scheme requires workers to take a lateral flow test each day for seven days at an approved testing site within the workplace or, for days on which they do not get tested, self-isolate at home. They must self-isolate until they take their first lateral flow test but can travel to work to take that test.

If the test is positive or the worker develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must self-isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test. If the result is negative, the worker can attend work over the next 24 hours. The guidance also states that workers should follow a range of other measures to minimise the risk of onward transmission, such as avoiding poorly ventilated public places.

Employers participating in the scheme will receive training to ensure they are able to provide daily contact testing safely and effectively. Those sites approved for workplace daily contact testing will be able to continue providing this service after 16 August for contacts who are not exempt from self-isolation. From 16 August 2021, fully vaccinated adults in the UK will no longer have to self-isolate if they are told they have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19, however they will still be advised to take a PCR test. The scheme will be kept under review by the Government.

If you would like any further guidance on the workplace daily contact testing scheme please contact Zahra Gulamhusein in our Employment Law team on 020 7665 0868, or complete the form below.

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