The Cold Chain Federation has written to the Health Secretary and the Defra Secretary, urging them to remove the Covid-19 close contact isolation requirement for fully vaccinated food logistics key workers from 19th July instead of waiting until 16th August.

The Federation – which represents businesses in the UK which store and move chilled and frozen food – says that the impacts of a rise in numbers of staff being asked to isolate as infection numbers grow will compound the ongoing recruitment crisis in the logistics sector. This crisis is already seeing food logistics businesses operating at reduced staffing levels and struggling to fulfil orders and the Federation says that waiting until 16th August to remove the close contact isolation requirement will put further strain on the food supply chain when it is already at breaking point.

“Food businesses have managed to continue serving the nation through one extraordinary challenge after another over the past 18 months, but we face the biggest food chain risk yet due to the disconnect between England moving to Step 4 on July 19th and the rules on self-isolation not changing until 16th August,” said Shane Brennan, Cold Chain Federation Chief Executive. “The logistics industry is already hit hard by a major recruitment crisis. The risk of considerable disruption to the food supply chain due to further staffing shortages can be reduced safely by bringing forward the end of close contact isolation for the food distribution workers who are fully vaccinated.

“There needs to be a balance of judgement in managing this period out of transition and we would not make this request if we did not feel it was absolutely necessary. Businesses across the cold chain have shown their ability to manage workplaces effectively throughout the pandemic and it is time to trust them again now.”