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23 July 2021



With over half a million people 'pinged' by the NHS COVID-19 app last week, Make UK say over three quarters of manufacturing companies have seen their business affected, with one in 10 reporting up to 25% of their employees self-isolating. The impact includes closures of bars and restaurants, delays in food and drink supplies and loss of productivity across sectors. In print, the story has been no different, with many of you contacting us to let us know about the challenges you face as a result.  

While anyone receiving a ping is clearly told how many days to self-isolate for, what's been less clear is the legal status of these mobile phone alerts. Unhelpfully, the Government has confused the situation further, with various ministers giving mixed messages about what being pinged - and refusal to comply - actually means.

This FAQ gives you the facts about what you need to do, what's likely to change and when, and the lobbying the BPIF is doing on your behalf.

Do I have to self-isolate?

If you are alerted (or 'pinged') by the NHS COVID-19 mobile phone app, then you are advised to self-isolate for the period the app instructs. This is Government guidance and not a legal requirement. It is also not a legal requirement to download the COVID-19 app - having the app on your mobile phone is voluntary.

If you are contacted by the COVID-19 Test & Trace service (this will be in the form of an email, text message or phone call) then self-isolation is a legal requirement. Not complying can incur a fine of £1000.

Will the situation get worse?

With more social contact following the lifting of most restrictions on 19 July, it's likely the so-called 'pingdemic' isn't over yet. However, from 16 August the rules change - anyone pinged by the app who has been double-vaccinated (with the second vaccination received two weeks or more prior) will not be advised to self-isolate.

Is anyone exempt?

Yesterday evening (22 July), the Business Secretary announced a list of 16 exempt sectors and the conditions which apply. Workers in these sectors are allowed to go to work provided they:

  • have been double vaccinated (with the second jab taking place 14 days or more prior) and
  • take a daily test with a negative result and
  • work for a company which has received a letter from the government on which the company's name is included.

The exempt sectors are:

  • food production and supply
  • energy
  • civil nuclear
  • digital infrastructure
  • waste
  • water
  • veterinary medicines
  • essential chemicals
  • essential transport
  • medicines
  • medical devices
  • clinical consumable supplies
  • emergency services
  • border control
  • essential defence outputs
  • local government.

Companies which have not received a letter but which do business in, or supply into, one of the above sectors can apply by emailing the relevant government department:

Food packaging and supply - email [email protected]

Medicines, medical devices and clinical consumable supplies - email [email protected]  

Local government - email [email protected]

If your company does not fit into any of the listed sectors, but you feel you deserve an exemption, contact the Department for Business on [email protected]

What is the BPIF doing?

The Federation is making representations on your behalf to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy regarding the impact of the self-isolation rules. With many of you finding production affected by staff shortages, we are supporting Make UK's call for the 16 August change to be brought forward, removing the self-isolation advice for those who've been double-vaccinated. 



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For more information please contact:
Carys Davis
Carys Davis
07854 950316