KEY or critical workers are the people who are keeping the country running to ensure we all can be safe through a new third nationwide lockdown.
So who are the millions of key workers and why are they so important?
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NHS workers are keeping the country running to ensure we all can be safe through another nationwide lockdownCredit: EPA
Who is a key worker?
Key workers are the people who are crucial to keeping the country running safely.
These include medics, firefighters, police officers, journalists, and those working in supermarkets and for the various transport networks across the country.
There are an estimated 10 million key workers who each play a crucial role in Britain’s fight against coronavirus.
Key workers will be exempt from new working from home rules during England’s new national lockdown.
Critical Covid-19 response sectors in more detail
This is how the Government defines the groups of key workers:
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 distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
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 working in prisons, probation, courts and tribunals staff, judiciary, religious staff, charities and workers delivering critical frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, journalists and broadcasters covering coronavirus or 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 and movement of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
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.
Can children of key workers still go to school?
Key workers’ children are able to go to school.
During the second national lockdown, schools remained open for all pupils but in the third lockdown they are closed to most students.
Children in low-income families have also been on the Free Schools Meals scheme, where these families were put on a national voucher system, whereby they were able to receive free coupons with monetary value to cover the loss of school meals.
Can key workers get tested for coronavirus?
Yes. In fact, many key workers are routinely tested as part of the job.
Key workers who show symptoms or believe that they or someone in their family has the virus are able to easily obtain a test.
Employers can also refer essential workers for testing if they are self-isolating because either they or members of their household have coronavirus symptoms.
The government has said testing is most effective within three days of symptoms, a high temperature or a new continuous cough developing.
This test is not the same as an antibody or antigen test and only tests to see if you are currently infected.
At some centres, you will need your worker ID or some other form of proof that shows you are a key worker.
You can check the government’s list here.
Key workers come from all corners of society and are not just found in the NHSCredit: EPA