England has undergone a series of regulation changes surrounding self-isolation and the coronavirus pandemic. If your company is operating in the construction or roofing sector, understanding the latest rules is essential for keeping the population safe and the country running.

On 19 July 2021 and then 16 August 2021, COVID-19 rules for self-isolation changed as part of step four of the government’s COVID-19 roadmap. With 75% of people having received both vaccine doses, step four loosens restrictions, helping roofing and construction companies overcome the preceding issues, such as a lack of labour and delays in building or renovation projects.

Current Isolation Guidelines

The current self-isolation guidelines for construction workers are different for unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. We will first look at the rules for unvaccinated employees.

Unvaccinated roofing or construction workers must self-isolate when:

  • They have COVID-19 symptoms (continuous cough, high temperature, or a loss or change of sense of taste or smell)
  • Someone they live with has COVID-19 symptoms.
  • They have tested positive.
  • They have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or receive an alert from the NHS COVID-19 app.
  • They have arrived in England from a red list country or an amber list country when they have not been fully vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme.

How This Impacts Construction Workers

Fully vaccinated construction workers (double-jabbed with an MHRA-approved vaccine) are exempt from self-isolation if:

  • They are advised that they have been in close contact with a person who has a positive coronavirus case as long as they received the jab more than 14 days prior.

However, the worker is advised to get a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test conducted as soon as possible. They must then self-isolate immediately if the test returns a positive result, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.

The construction worker should self-isolate if they develop coronavirus symptoms while they are waiting for PCR test results. Even if they do not notice any symptoms, they should consider wearing a face mask until their PCR test results are returned. Double vaccinated workers can still be infected with COVID-19 and infect others. Wearing a mask will help limit infections of vulnerable people, such as those who are young, old, or have a chronic illness.

The rules of what constitutes close contact are as follows:

  • Anyone who lives in the same household as the worker.
  • Anyone who has had face-to-face contact within one metre, and includes conversations and coughing.
  • Anyone who has been within one metre of the worker for one minute or longer
  • Anyone who has been within 2 metres of the worker for more than 15 minutes
  • People who have travelled in the same vehicle or plane

There are limited and exceptional circumstances whereby some critical workers may still work. However, these individuals need to be agreed on with a relevant government office (including the Cabinet Office and Department of Health and Social Care). They must work in a role that, if not completed, would disrupt critical services and would otherwise harm the public.