Construction industry trade bodies including the CLC have called on the government to speed up the end of isolation requirements for people ‘pinged’ by the NHS app.
The industry, like others in the country, has been affected by people being told to isolate by the NHS app after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, leading to a lack of workers on site.
The government said earlier this week it would look at exemptions for workers from some “critical” industries that have been badly disrupted, with an expectation that a list of exempt occupations would be published on Thursday.
Instead the government will only allow specific people in critical jobs in 16 designated sectors– which include the waste and water sectors – to be exempt from isolating, providing they have received two vaccinations. Organisations will have to make an application for specific workers to receive the exemption by emailing a government department, which will then decide whether to grant exemption.
The exemptions will only apply until 16 August, from which date people who have received both vaccinations will no longer have to isolate.
National Federation of Builders chief executive Richard Beresford said many sites were being badly affected now: “Every member we have spoken to has COVID-negative staff isolating, some have had to shut sites due to a site managers or other key staff being pinged and no replacements available,” he said.
Beresford warned the situation, combined with other problems in the market, could even affect the survival of some firms. “It also appears that the difficulties in the supply chain, such as the shortage of drivers, are being further compounded by this issue and there is now a real risk that the supply chain will collapse if we continue this trajectory until mid-August,” he said.
The CLC has called for the 16 August date to be brought forward. CLC co-chair Andy Mitchell said: “We have reports from across the industry of plants, sites and offices having to wind down activities as staff have been asked to isolate. This is putting very significant pressure on the sector, risking project delivery and even the viability of some firms. Where staff are already fully vaccinated, and recognising that such people will be free to work from 16 August anyway, we are asking the government to bring forward this date for essential industries like construction, ensuring that the industry doesn’t grind to a halt”
The CLC added that bringing forward the date could also help boost the number of people that are fully vaccinated.
It echoes a statement from the CBI yesterday which said: “We can end the ‘pingdemic’ by bringing forward the date by which all those who have been double-jabbed no longer need to self-isolate if not infectious and introducing a test & release scheme.”
The NFB boss added: “The government needs to act to make sure its self-isolation rules are in line with the progress made by the vaccination programme and reflect the opening up of society. It must bring forward the changes to self-isolation rules as soon as possible.”