A PRIORITY booking system has been introduced at symptom-free coronavirus testing centres across Wirral for key workers.

The move, in-line with Government guidance, is designed to provide additional reassurance and support for people in roles such as school and college staff, delivery drivers and supermarket employees as well as unpaid carers and anyone else who cannot work from home during the national lockdown (see the full list of who is eligible further down the article).

The advice is that if you who can stay at home, do so.

Councillor Yvonne Nolan, chair of Wirral Council's adult social care and public health committee said: "When we launched symptom-free testing in early December, the people of Wirral fully embraced the opportunity to get a test and help us identify those who may unwittingly be carrying the virus.

"However, we are now in a national lockdown and residents should not leave home unless undertaking an essential journey or because they simply cannot work from home.

"Key workers have to leave home each day to work and it is those people who we must now support and protect.

"It is why we have introduced priority booking at our symptom-free testing centres to ensure they are able to plan a test around their working day.

"The booking system prioritises key workers and those in essential roles who do not currently have access to symptom-free testing as part of their job and will give them greater reassurance that they are staying clear of infection and provide an early indication if they have caught Covid-19 but do not have symptoms.

"They can then self-isolate and get tested at one of our symptoms only testing centres.

"If they test negative, we encourage them to regularly get tested, leaving at least five days between tests."

Wirral's symptom-free testing centre are:

Floral Pavilion conference centre, New Brighton - open seven days a week, 10:30am to 6:30pm

Greasby Library - seven days a week, 10:30am to 6:30pm

Eastham Library - seven days a week, 10:30am to 6:30pm

Birkenhead Market - Monday to Saturday, 9am to 4:15pm (closed Sundays)

If you have symptoms of the virus you must not visit any of the 'symptom free' testing centres. Self-isolate and get a test at one of the 'symptoms only' testing centres.

To book an appointment and for more details at Wirral’s symptom-free testing centres visit: www.wirral.gov.uk/test

So, which roles and professions are on the Government's critical worker list?

According to the guidance "people whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors".

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:

  • Childcare
  • Support and teaching staff
  • Social workers
  • Specialist education professionals who must remain active during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response to deliver this approach

Key public services

This includes:

  • Those essential to the running of the justice system
  • Religious staff
  • Charities and workers delivering key frontline services
  • Those responsible for the management of the deceased
  • Journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of:

  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) response, and the delivery of and response to EU transition
  • Essential public services, such as the payment of benefits and the certification or checking of goods for import and export (including animal products, animals, plants and food), 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
  • Those essential to the provision 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 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and EU transition)
  • 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

Transport and border

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and EU transition, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass and those constructing or supporting the operation of critical transport and border infrastructure 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 coronavirus (COVID-19) response
  • 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
  • Waste disposal sectors