More than a quarter of a million hospitality workers have recently been, or are currently, self-isolating after being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app.
A new survey from UKHospitality has found that six in 10 hospitality businesses have had staff off work due to the ‘pingdemic’ and that 267,000 people or 13% of the industry’s workforce are in isolation now or have been recently.
As a result of this, many operators are having to take drastic measures just days after being able to trade restriction-free for the first time in 16 months, with four in 10 forced to either fully or partially close.
Others have had to take a host of steps to mitigate the problem; nearly half (47%) have reduced trading hours; about six in 10 are relying on remaining staff to work longer hours; others have moved to limit menus (39%) and/or offering a takeaway-only service (8%).
UKHospitality is calling for immediate action from the Government to help these hard-pressed businesses.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive UKHospitality, said: “This is an absolutely critical summer period for hospitality and tourism in the UK yet, during what should be peak season, many operators are being forced to reduce trading hours or close their doors completely due to the ‘pingdemic’.
“We urge the Government to move quicker to bring forward practical solutions, such as a test-to-release scheme. This would enable those who are fully vaccinated to return to work following a ping, following a negative test result. For those not fully vaccinated – a significant proportion of the industry’s young workforce – two negative tests should be sufficient.
“This is an industry that is striving to get back to its feet, with some businesses only now able to trade for the first time after a long period of closure. Hospitality has a crucial role to play in driving the UK’s economic recovery but without swift intervention more businesses will close and more jobs will be lost.”
Survey respondents operate around 17,000 hospitality venues, employing a total of 308,000 people.