Early years not recognised as key sector under self-isolation exemption 

Updated Test and Trace guidance for the Workplace has been published identifying 16 key sectors that will be exempt from self-isolating should they come into contact with a positive case of Covid-19. 


The early education and childcare sector was not recognised, despite its vital role or the extreme pressures providers are under, and was not named among the key sectors. The sectors included are – 

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

The guidance also states that "In some exceptional cases there may be critical roles in sectors not listed… which meet the criteria. These will be agreed on a case-by-case basis. Where employers think this applies, they should contact the government department with responsibility for their sector."

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “Since the proposed exemptions were announced we have been urging government Ministers and departments to include early years workers in the list of critical services. They have been providing childcare for critical workers throughout the pandemic and are a vital part of our national infrastructure. 

“Every day we are hearing of more and more nurseries having to close due to staff self-isolating, and if there is a safe way of avoiding that for those who have been vaccinated – this should be available to our crucial early years sector. It is disappointing that once gain the Government has failed to recognise the scale of the challenge nurseries and childcare providers are facing.

“In the last wave, as many as three quarters of nurseries had to close and each time this happens it means disruption for children and parents. It also means another financial hit for nurseries with lost income and ongoing costs still to meet. 

“The Government needs to act to avoid temporary closures becoming more permanent. They must provide urgent financial support to those who face partial or full closure in this third wave of infections.”

Read the updated guidance here.