A narrow list of workers will be able to avoid having to isolate if they have contact with a Covid sufferer (Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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The full list of critical sectors whose workers can avoid Covid isolation has finally been published by the government.

Industries include – but are not exclusive to – food production and supply, medicines, border control and digital infrastructure.

The Department of Health said these workers will only be able to leave self isolation only to "undertake critical work".

This policy is set to last until August 16 when Ministers are expected to reassess coronavirus measures.

It has been brought in after an explosion in Covid cases – and therefore people told to isolate after contact with one.

People working in the border control sector may be exempt from isolation if they are told to quarantine
(Image: Getty Images)

New figures today showed 618,903 people were told to isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app in the week to July 14, a record.

However, the list of industries is not a blanket or automatic exemption. Instead, workers will be told individually by their boss if they are supposed to come into work.

The government has said exempt people will only be allowed onto the scheme if they're double-jabbed and in "exceptional circumstances" – and even then can only go to work, not anywhere else.

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They will only be allowed into work if "there would otherwise be a major detrimental impact on essential services".

They must take an initial PCR test then daily lateral flow tests and if they test positive, will have to isolate.

Those who develop Covid symptoms themselves or test positive cannot dodge isolation.

Supermarkets have been hit by staff in food supplies self-isolating
(Image: Tim Merry)

Boris Johnson announced the scheme earlier this week, saying: “We will protect crucial services including the staffing of our hospitals and our care homes, the supplies of food, water, electricity and medicines, the running of our trains, the protection of our borders and the defence of our realm, by making sure that a very small number of named, fully vaccinated, critical workers are able to leave their isolation solely for the work I have described.”

The full list of sectors

  • Energy
  • Civil nuclear
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Food production
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Veterinary medicines
  • Essential chemicals
  • Essential transport
  • Medicines
  • Medical devices
  • Clinical consumable supplies
  • Emergency services
  • Border control
  • Essential defence outputs
  • Local government

Earlier the scheme descended into confusion over exactly which workers would be covered, and how the system would work.

Downing Street stressed on Tuesday there would not be a single "list" of workers exempt automatically – and instead firms would have to apply to government departments on a case-by-case business.

This morning Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng contradicted this, saying: "I don't think it's a question of applying for this".

Some petrol stations have been shut by the 'pingdemic'
(Image: PA)

But No10 later confirmed firms would still have to apply one by one. A spokesman said exemptions would apply to a “very small number of named, fully vaccinated critical workers”.

The change comes weeks before England's rules shift completely on August 16, with all children and double-jabbed adults able to ignore Covid contact isolation from that point.

After that date, if people are fully vaccinated, only people with Covid symptoms or a positive test themselves will need to isolate for 10 days.

This breaking news story is being updated.