We appreciate the pandemic has been a very difficult time for the hospitality sector and appreciate all the efforts made by businesses to introduce COVID-secure measures, including advocating use of the NHS COVID-19 app by their staff and customers.
The app is a vital tool as we continue to ease national restrictions and complements other NHS Test and Trace processes by extending the speed, reach and precision of contact tracing to help break chains of transmission. Scientific evidence recently published in the prestigious journal Nature proves that the app works to help keep people safe – experts at Oxford University and the Turing Institute have shown that, for every 1% increase in app users, the number of coronavirus cases in the population can be reduced by 2.3%. We therefore continue to strongly recommend people download and use the NHS COVID-19 app, including while at work.
The app is, however, advisory and it is up to individual’s discretion if and how they use the app and whether they follow its advice.
People who have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are advised to self-isolate if notified via the app, but are only legally required to self-isolate if notified by other NHS Test and Trace routes (i.e. if they have tested positive or have been identified as a contact through non-app contact tracing). Whilst we accept that having staff self-isolating can be challenging for businesses it is important to help break chains of transmission, as people who have COVID-19 can infect others from around 2 days before symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after. They can pass the infection to others, even if they have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
The pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and we are constantly reviewing evidence and considering how best to return to as normal a life as possible whilst protecting public health. Alternatives to self-isolation are being explored, for example, Daily Contact Testing pilots have been running to see if taking a daily LFD test could be used as a potential alternative to self-isolation for people who are identified as contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, if their test results are negative and they don’t have symptoms. These pilots will help increase understanding of how effective Daily Contact Testing is and whether it impacts on transmission of the virus. Next steps are currently being considered.
It will be good to keep the communication channels open as we move forward and we would be happy to arrange some stakeholder sessions about the NHS Covid-19 app, both to clarify the important part it has to play in pandemic response and to clarify any misunderstandings, if that would be helpful.”