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Council welcomes Government’s ‘pingdemic’ exemptions but awaits details

Cllr Ian Maher
Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher

Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher has welcomed the Government’s announcement that local government employees will be among those who can carry on working after being pinged by the COVID app, as long as they take daily tests.

Feeling effects

Cllr Ian Maher said: Like companies and organisations across the country, Sefton Council is feeling the effects of the current ‘pingdemic’ which is seeing thousands of people being told to isolate through the NHS COVID app.

“With the recent growth in numbers of people infected because of the coronavirus Delta variant, many of the Council’s staff are currently isolating, which is continuing to have an effect on frontline services.

“With the Government finally announcing the list of those exempt from isolation, we can hopefully start to recover, although we are still waiting to hear the details of what roles are covered.”

The Government has said that exemptions will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated and then, 14 days after their second coronavirus jab. They will apply until Monday 16th August when wider relaxations for fully vaccinated people are expected

Last night’s announcement by the Government warned “this is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector”. The exemptions “will not cover all or in most cases even the majority of workers in critical sectors” and only apply to those whose employer has received a letter on which they are is listed by name.

Rising sharply

Cllr Ian Maher said: “Despite the recent lifting of COVID restrictions by the Government, the Delta variant has meant numbers of cases have been rising sharply, in Sefton, on Merseyside and across the country.

“As with other sectors such as transport and supermarkets and food production, councils are being hit by the large numbers of people having to isolate and I am afraid this inevitably means services will be affected.

“Sefton Council employees have been working to support and protect our communities, our businesses and our vulnerable throughout the pandemic.

“Some have been able to continue working mainly from home while others have carried on as well providing frontline service such as bin collections, social services, care work and the protection of our unique environment. And teachers and other staff have been in Sefton’s schools throughout the pandemic for pupils who were unable to stay at home.

“Some staff have been temporarily transferred to other teams because they have been unable to carry on with their regular jobs due to closures. Instead they have worked in areas such as burials and cremations to ensure the continuation of those key services.

“I can assure Sefton’s residents, businesses and visitors that the Council will continue to deliver the services they rely on even though they may, temporarily, not be at the same high standards they quite rightly expect.”

Cllr Maher went on to say that while the number of employees being told to isolate through the COVID app was affecting Council services, they were doing ‘the right thing’ by following the guidance.

Vital

Cllr Maher continued: “For those of us not covered by these new exemptions it is vital that if we are pinged or contacted by test and trace, we continue to self-isolate.

“Like getting both vaccination jabs and continuing to take regular tests if you’ve not got symptoms, isolating when we’re told to, is vital to preventing the further spread of COVID in this latest peak of infections.

“And I have been pleased to see that, while the Government has removed most restrictions, many people across Sefton are continuing to show care and consideration for each other by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and, I hope, washing their hands frequently and thoroughly.”

Find out more about COVID in Sefton.