We are receiving a number of queries ref exemptions for critical workers to self isolate. We remain in close contact with the LGA to ensure we receive latest updates when they become available so we can pass to you.

The MCHLG have issued a new update for Self isolation for Critical Services:

Changes to the self-isolation legislation, which are planned for 16 August, will mean individuals who have had two vaccinations will not need to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact.  

Until then the Prime Minister has stressed the importance of isolation, which remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus.  

However, to support the resilience of critical services in the meantime, Government has put in place the following scheme.   

Reasonable excuse for named individuals who are close contacts of positive cases to leave self-isolation for the purpose of undertaking critical work where their absence would result in serious disruption to critical services 

This process does not apply to any workers who have tested positive to coronavirus and should also not be used for contacts who develop symptoms regardless of their role or vaccination status.

This reasonable excuse scheme applies to a small number of situations where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services. In this circumstance, a limited number of fully vaccinated named workers may be able to leave self-isolation under specific controls for the purpose of undertaking critical work only. 

The test that is applied when identifying if an individual could attend work and be exempt from self-isolation is whether they work in critical elements of national infrastructure and whether their absence would be likely to lead to the loss or compromise of this infrastructure resulting in: 

  • Major detrimental impact on the availability, integrity or delivery of essential services – including those services whose integrity, if compromised, could result in significant loss of life or casualties; and/or
  • Significant impact on national security, national defence, or the functioning of the state. 

The process is exceptional for these specific circumstances. It is not intended to avoid all disruption to services that will result from the need for people to self-isolate. Please note that this policy will only apply when applicants have been named in a letter from the relevant government department. For full details on criteria please follow the link to the guidance here 


Critical services and approval process 

Where employers believe the self-isolation of certain key employees as contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, they should contact the relevant government department. You will need to provide details of the number of individuals affected, the roles they perform and the impact that failure to do this would have and when this impact is likely to materialise. For councils, we expect that the following areas may be affected by this policy: 

  • Adult Social Care. There is already an agreed separate process for self-isolation exemptions for NHS and care workers which was announced on 19 July.  This does not require a written letter of approvement from government; full guidance for that process is available here
  • Waste Services. You have been contacted by DEFRA with further details on how to apply for reasonable excuse status; if you have immediate queries please direct to the following email address: emergencies@defra.gov.uk
  •  Children’s Services. We will share details of the process that DfE are putting in place to allow local authorities to apply for reasonable excuse status very shortly.  

If you consider that there is another sector area that is not covered by the above, you can contact MHCLG. We ask that you carefully consider whether it meets the criteria and very high bar set out in the guidance before submitting. If you do submit a request, this must be sent from a senior official and must include all of the following information – without this information we will not be able to process your request: 

  • The sector affected
  • The workplace(s) affected
  • The number of people this might apply to for each specific type of role
  • The roles those individuals need to perform
  • An assessment of the impact failure to do this would have (in line with the criteria in the guidance) – including what alternative options to manage absences have been considered
  • An assessment of when this impact is likely to materialise (e.g. is it already an issue or likely to materialise in the coming days)
  • An estimate of when this will no longer be required, including the date of a review point if this is not possible
  • The conditions put in place to limit the transmission risk
  • The name of the lead individual in the workplace. 

Please send any requests to LGResponse@communities.gov.uk, titled ‘For Escalation’. This process will allow us to ensure that submissions are considered as quickly as possible to help those areas experiencing serious disruption.  


DEFRA reasonable excuse process – refers to the criteria/eligibility and process to follow where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, and where a limited number of named workers may be able to leave self-isolation under specific controls.

Defra request form – to complete to request a reasonable excuse letter.

This process is only intended to run until 16 August 2021, when fully vaccinated close contacts will be exempt from self-isolation.


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