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Firms in England to be told if their staff qualify for isolation exemption

Business secretary says critical worker list will be released on Thursday amid ‘pingdemic’ chaos

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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.

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