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‘Pingdemic’ forces employers to shut up shop

Iceland and Greene King have both had to close sites due to staff shortages as many employees have been forced to self-isolate.

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Employers are starting to feel the brunt of the NHS Covid app, which has started to ‘ping’ thousands of employees, telling them to self-isolate.

 

One such employer is supermarket chain Iceland, who shared that it had to shut some stores, while Greene King has closed 33 pubs in the past week, reported the BBC.

 

Iceland’s chief executive Richard Walker stated that four percent of the firm’s 30,000-strong workforce was now absent.

 

He continued: “In fact, we’ve just announced employing an additional 2,000 people on top of that to give us a deeper pool of labour, because so many people are now getting pinged.”

 

Elsewhere, Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said that the pubs group had shortened opening hours at some sites in order to cater for the staff shortages.

 

He revealed that in the hospitality industry, around one in five team members have been affected by the ‘pingdemic’, “and therefore it is causing a real issue for us setting up a business on a daily basis”.

 

Similarly, carmaker Vauxhall shared that it has reduced its daily shifts at its Luton-based plant from three to two, citing the increasing numbers of staff who have been contacted by the app as the reason behind this move.

 

Government must tackle ‘pingdemic’

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has since urged the government to tackle the crisis of staff shortages brought on by the NHS Covid app.

 

Currently anyone who has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 must self-isolate for 10 days, but plans are expected to loosen on this from 16 August.

 

However, the CBI stated in a release that “speed was of the essence”, adding that double-jabbed people should be able to avoid the 10-day isolation rule, while others should return to work after a negative test.

 

CBI president, Lord Karan Bilimoria, said: “With restrictions being lifted and cases rapidly increasing, we urgently need a surefooted approach from government, creating confidence to secure the recovery.

 

“This starts by immediately ending the self-isolation period of ten days for people who are double-jabbed and providing a route out of isolation for those not yet fully vaccinated through daily lateral flow tests. Against the backdrop of crippling staff shortages, speed is of the essence.”

 

According to recent figures, more than 500,000 people in England and Wales were ‘pinged’ by the app in the week to 7 July, which is an increase of 46% on the previous week.

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