The government has extended its list of industries whose staff are eligible for exemption of isolation- MK Council has confirmed that food and waste services do not qualify as "critical".
The sectors include energy, food production and supply, waste, water, veterinary medicines, essential transport, medicines, medical devices, emergency services, border control, local government and more.
Last week, MK Council suspended food and garden waste collections across Milton Keynes from 26th July due to staff shortages with 28% of refuse workers either ill or self-isolating with COVID.
The local Conservatives said yesterday (27/7) that they were pleased with the governments announcement and that they hoped the suspension of Food and waste services in Milton Keynes would resolve quickly, however Council Leader Peter Marland has responded that while waste collection operatives do appear on the critical list, it only includes main waste.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “We recognise that the challenges on waste collections and other frontline services from people having to self-isolate is tough so we are pleased to see the government respond swiftly.
With refuse workers now exempt from self-isolation, we are looking forward to MK Council getting the daily testing capacity sorted and then restarting food and garden waste collections ASAP.”
In response, Leader of Milton Keynes Council, Cllr Peter Marland said: “The advice and guidance on exemption coming from government is a total shambles. The exemption rules are very strict and while waste collection operatives do appear on the critical list, it is for main waste collections only. Garden waste does not qualify as “critical.”
"The exemption for staff will also only apply if a critical service is not able to continue in any other way. Due to the measures we have put in place as a council black sack collections and recycling collections have continued, so unless things change the exemption doesn’t apply. The Conservatives total lack of ability to see beyond their political self-interest has led to this utter shambles.
"There are empty shelves in shops, queues at ports and a national shortage of HGV drivers due to Brexit while at the same time we have very high levels of infections and a falling number of vaccinations being carried out, yet the MK Conservative’s priority is playing politics over a botched exemption scheme that has almost no real substance.
"It’s literally something the government has announced to look like they are doing something but is essentially worthless. The green bin service will restart as soon as we return to proper staffing levels that can offer a proper service. We all want to see it start again, but let’s not forget if the government had planned better in the first place we wouldn’t be in this mess.”