Thursday 22 July 2021 10:00 pm

Lorry drivers and factory workers get exemption from Test and Trace app to halt shortages

Lorry drivers and factor workers in the food and drinks sectors will be exempt from the Test and Trace app and will instead be tested every day for Covid-19 as the government tries to ease shortages caused by the so-called “pingdemic”.

The government announced tonight that “daily contact testing will be rolled out to critical workplaces in the food supply chain”, after a roundtable today with supermarket leaders.

Any worker that is eligible for the exemption will not need to self-isolate if they test negative even if they are pinged by the NHS Test and Trace app.

It is believed that supermarket workers will not be exempt.

More than 600,000 people were told to self-isolate after being pinged by the app in the past week as Covid cases surge across the country.

Images of empty shelves emerged last night, leading supermarkets to apologise for the Test and Trace-caused shortages.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) statement said leaders of the country’s largest supermarkets today “downplayed fears of shortages, saying problems were not widespread”.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “As we manage this virus and do everything we can to break chains of transmission, daily contact testing of workers in this vital sector will help to minimise the disruption caused by rising cases in the coming weeks, while ensuring workers are not put at risk.”

Business groups reportedly urged the government yesterday to scrap the Test and Trace system for supermarkets and food supply chains in a private meeting.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said this morning that the government was “monitoring” the supermarket shortages and that it was “very concerned about some developments”.

The new testing regime for the food and drink sectors will begin this week, with rollout of up to 500 sites expected by next week.