More Vague Government Definitions Add to the Confusion for Logistics Operators

UK – Possibly the biggest criticism of the UK government when addressing the Covid 19 crisis has been a lack of clarity. The latest pronouncement on the additional daily testing of key workers has illustrated this, as seen by the Road Haulage Association (RHA). The RHA raises the simple question, ‘What is a key worker?’ certainly the logistics sector contains a proportion of such staff, but who are they and in which sector are they employed?

From January 10 daily lateral flow tests (you know, the ones they didn’t have enough of last week) will be sent out to relevant firms to ensure that essential industries and their workforces are maintained. The RHA has asked the government regarding the types of critical workers who will be able to access these daily lateral flow tests, but don’t hold your breath for a sensible reply. The government statement announcing the policy said:

“Critical workers will be able to take a test on every working day and the provision of precautionary testing will be for an initial five weeks. This will help to isolate asymptomatic cases and limit the risk of outbreaks in workplaces, reducing transmission while Covid cases remain high. “These critical workers are those who work in essential services, cannot work from home and are at risk of infecting each other, for example, due to working together in an enclosed space.

“People covered by the scheme will include those who work in critical national infrastructure, national security, transport, and food distribution and processing. This includes vital roles in Border Force, Police and Fire and Rescue Services control rooms, electricity generation, test kit warehouses and test surge labs.” So just how vague is that?

What defines an ‘enclosed space’? A twenty foot portakabin, a 10,000 square foot warehouse? Why food distribution and not general logistics which might mean the carriage of medical and other essential items?

Despite the length of time passed under restrictions the government still seems incapable of understanding that the logistics sector and the supply chain is responsible for just about everything we need and use. As our own motto states ‘If you don’t breathe it, think it or give birth to it – somebody delivered it’, froom the water you drink to the socks you wear. The government promised to update the list fully in time for the roll out on Monday January 10. This release appears to be an update of the previous advice on Key Workers associated with keeping the schools open.

Whilst many of the jobs involved are described in specific detail there is no section for logistics and the ‘Transport’ category contains just three lines: ‘This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the Covid 19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass‘ (our italics). The government said the full range of organisations affected will be contacted directly by today but it is hard to see if it actually knows who it would be relevant to contact.

The move is part of ‘Plan B’ for the winter management of the Omicron variant which the government hopes will manage to avoid any more stringent measures.

We wait with bated breath.