The government is under pressure from businesses and unions to tackle the growing crisis of worker self-isolation amid warnings that Monday’s so-called Freedom Day will turn into “Day of Chaos.”
There are fears of transport issues on Monday morning due to the number of workers polled by the NHS Test and Trace app, as well as warnings of shortages of goods in supermarkets and production cuts at factories.
The CBI called on the government to immediately allow double-bitten individuals not to self-isolate for 10 days rather than wait until August 16.
CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria said: “With the lifting of restrictions and the rapid increase in cases, we urgently need a secure approach from the government, building the confidence to ensure the recovery.
“It starts by immediately ending the 10-day self-isolation period for people who are double-bitten and providing a way out of isolation for those who are not yet fully vaccinated through daily testing. lateral flow. In a context of crippling staff shortages, speed is essential.
“Wearing a mask in confined spaces, especially in transportation, will help build staff and customer confidence, as will clarity regarding the future availability of free testing for employees. “
The Railways, Shipping and Transport Union said the closure of the London Underground metro line on Saturday due to key staff being questioned by track and tracing showed how well transport services were “on the razor wire”.
General Secretary Mick Lynch told the PA News Agency: “Many rail, bus and metro services are already seriously understaffed, leaving them dangerously exposed.
“The government’s botched handling of this latest phase of the pandemic, and the blatant hypocrisy of the Prime Minister and his Chancellor who do not think the isolation rules apply to them, mean their Freedom Day could very easily turn into a Day of Chaos. “
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government cannot look sideways as Covid unleashes.
“Ministers urgently need to make masks a legal requirement on public transport and in shops, and they must strengthen their vague and inadequate return-to-work guidelines so workers have confidence that their workplaces are safe .
“The chaos and confusion of the past few days will only increase without clear and consistent rules.
“It is unwise to bet the safety of key workers, from bus drivers to supermarket staff, on individuals’ sense of individual responsibility.
“If we are to stop Covid from ravaging workplaces, people need to be helped to self-isolate.
“It means providing decent sick pay at the level of the real living wage and making sure that everyone can get it.
“With hundreds of thousands of workers interviewed every week, this is more urgent than ever.”
Dr Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “Again, reopening the economy is hampered by poor communication and mixed messages.
“The latest guidelines for companies make it clear that by law companies should not allow a self-isolating worker to come to work, but, at the same time, ministers are advising the media that the application is merely advisory. “
Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said: “The government must take back control. With infections and hospital admissions increasing, tomorrow’s dropping of remaining restrictions does not bode well.
“Unfortunately, the genius of Freedom Day is well and truly out of its bottle, but it’s not too late for the ministers to return.
“The government must once again make masks mandatory, reimpose social distancing and give NHS staff the pay rise they have been waiting for several months. “