Frontline health and social care staff, people involved in food production and delivery, and utility workers are among a list of workers cited as “essential” to the Covid-19 defence.
Schools across the UK are closing their doors due to the coronavirus outbreak this afternoon for an indefinite period of time.
However, the government has stated that schools in England will remain open for the children of key workers.
The list was supposed to be published on Thursday but on Thursday evening, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking on BBC Question Time, confirmed the list would not be published until Friday – when most schools will close their doors.
So in the early hours of this morning, ministers published the list of who qualifies as a ‘key worker’.
The list has been separated into 8 categories, including health and social care, key public services – such as those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and journalists – and transport.
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Workers involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery are also included, along with “administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response” in local and national government.
Staff needed for “essential financial services provision”, such as bank workers, key telecommunications staff and postal services and delivery workers are also on the list.
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
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Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
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Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
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.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
The DoEd said:
“If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home, then your children will be prioritised for education provision.”
It went on saying that children with at least one parent or carer identified as critical workers by the government could send their children to school if required.
The Department for Education said they expected the majority of educational establishments to stay open – but recognised it may be “impossible” for small rural schools.
It said when a school is unable to stay open, it would work with local officials to find an alternative setting for pupils, as well as providing transport arrangements.
Special schools are also expected to remain open, while educational settings will continue to cater for vulnerable children and pupils whose parents are key workers.
GCSEs and A-levels in England and Wales will be cancelled – although Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were plans for students to receive qualifications. Watch this space.
The education secretary has indicated guidance about exam cancellations will be issued today, including how pupils unable to sit their exams will get their grades.
Gavin Williamson said the government would work with schools, colleges and England’s exams regulator, Ofqual, “to ensure children get the qualifications they need”.
School leaders have said they expect that grades will be based on teacher assessment and evidence of internal assessment – such as mock exams – which could then be submitted to the exam boards to check.