Supermarket depot workers and food manufacturers in England will be exempt from quarantine rules as the government tries to prevent food supply problems.
Up to 10,000 staff are expected to qualify for the scheme, but supermarket workers are not included.
The move comes after the high number of retail staff self-isolating affected the availability of some products.
The government outlined plans to allow other key industries in England to deploy daily Covid testing instead of self-isolation for a limited number of essential workers. In this case, the scheme will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated.
This scheme covers sectors including transport, emergency services, border control, energy, digital infrastructure, waste, the water industry, essential defence outputs and local government.
The guidance lists 16 sectors:
But it adds that ‘in some exceptional cases’ there may be critical roles in other sectors which could be agreed on a case-by-case basis.
Changes are also being made in Scotland to self-isolation rules to allow essential staff in critical roles to return to work, where shortages are in danger of putting key services, such as health and social care, transport and food supplies at risk.