TechUK wants the government to consider letting datacentre operators run their own “test and release” system so that staff who are told to self-isolate by the NHS Track and Trace service can return to work faster if they test negative for Covid-19. The proposal is borne out of concerns raised by the tech trade body and its members that the government’s current self-isolation policy for critical workers, which covers digital infrastructure and datacentre personnel, is too inflexible and
demanding. In a positioning statement, TechUK described the approach as “impractical” and said it “threatens to undermine” the resiliency of the UK’s digital infrastructure by exacerbating the coronavirus-related staffing shortages many datacentre operators are already dealing with. Government has identified critical sectors eligible for a limited exemption from the obligation to self-isolate, enabling designated organizations to allow fully vaccinated staff back into the workplace following a negative test. However, a very high bar has been set for
both the eligibility criteria and the process,” said TechUK. Digital infrastructure is among those eligible, and this listing does not confer pre-exemption. Concessions are granted on a case-by-case basis, with formal government approval required for every single individual before return to work.” Under the terms of the critical worker’s self-isolation policy, published by the Department of Health and Social Care on 23 July 2021, a limited number of named individuals can return to work before their 10-day self-isolation period is up if they are double vaccinated and have secured written permission from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) to do so.