In the UK, some workers will now be paid to isolate in areas with high coronavirus rates

Some workers in the U.K. will be paid £130 ($172) if they are required to self-isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic, the British government announced Thursday. The payouts will be available to workers with low incomes who can’t work from home and live in areas with high numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases. 

Workers who test positive for the virus and qualify for the payment will receive the equivalent of £13 a day for a 10-day period of self-isolation from September 1. Meanwhile, other members of their household, who have to isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182. 

People outside the same household who have been identified by the U.K.’s contact tracing system and been advised to self-isolate will also be paid up to £182, depending on the length of isolation.

To be eligible, those affected have to already be receiving either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit payments. These are the U.K.’s benefit payments for people who are on low incomes or unemployed, for example. 

Payments will be made to people within 48 hours of them providing the necessary evidence to prove eligibility. 

The scheme is being trialed in the northwest areas of Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, which have recently seen local restrictions imposed by the government due to a spike in cases of the coronavirus. 

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted that he thought it was good that the government had “at last acknowledged the problem of people who can’t afford to self-isolate.” 

However, he said the payments would leave people without enough to live on. Instead, he argued there needed to be a scheme like the U.K.’s jury service, where wages are covered. 


The U.K.’s department of health and social care was not immediately available for comment on this issue when contacted by CNBC. 

Other areas in the northwest of England have also seen restrictions following local outbreaks of the virus. 

The U.K. as a whole has reported 330,967 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 41,552 deaths from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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