Changes have been made to the NHS Covid app which will mean fewer people being advised to self-isolate following contact with a positive case.
UKHospitality is calling the move ‘absolutely necessary’ to ensure the hospitality sector does not miss out on anymore summer trading, after prolonged periods of disruption and the ongoing ‘pingdemc’ that has seen businesses forced to close or restrict trading hours as staff are told to self-isolate.
The government announced the update to the app yesterday, following an update to the ‘logic’ by the health secretary, with the public still being urged to continue using the technology as restrictions lift.
Currently, for people who input a positive test but are asymptomatic, the app looks for close contacts five days prior to a positive test.
This will be updated based on public health advice to look back at contacts two days prior to a positive test.
The change will mean fewer contacts that took place when the positive case was unlikely to be at the peak of their infectiousness are advised to self-isolate, reducing the overall number of notifications sent by the app.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said: “With our research showing more than 250,000 hospitality workers being affected by ‘pings’ at any given point by the NHS Covid App, this intervention from Government is absolutely necessary to prevent a complete loss of summer trading for the hospitality sector following prolonged periods of severely disrupted trading.
“This will help to alleviate some of the pressure currently being experienced by hard-hit businesses, but is not a silver bullet. The fact that fully vaccinated staff will still currently have to self-isolate is a significant barrier to venues operating viably and moving towards recovery. We urge Government to update guidance and bring forward a workable test to release scheme at the soonest possible opportunity.”
Health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid said: “We want to reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses, while ensuring we’re protecting those most at risk from this virus. This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.”