The news that self-isolation will no longer be a requirement for people who have had two Covid-19 vaccines ‘significantly discriminates a huge proportion’ of hospitality workers and ‘doesn’t go far enough’ to plug the severe staff shortage the sector is facing.
Yesterday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid made a statement in the House of Commons which outlined new rules on self-isolation for people who have received two coronavirus vaccines that will come into effect on August 16.
The change will be that anyone who’s a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate, if they’ve been fully vaccinated.
However, if someone gets their second dose just before, or after, the 16th of August, they’ll need to wait until two weeks after they get the second jab so that the vaccine has time to build the maximum possible protection.
Those who are fully vaccinated and contacted by NHS Test and Trace will be advised to take a PCR test, and anyone who subsequently tests positive will have to self-isolate.
He also said businesses can use COVID-status certification at their discretion. From Step 4 onwards, the NHS Covid Pass will be accessible through the NHS app and other non-digital routes.
Commenting on the announcement Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said it ‘doesn’t go far enough, quickly enough’.
“The sector is experiencing severe staff shortages, compounded massively by the absence of team members who have been told to isolate despite not having shared shifts with colleagues who tested positive.
“Introducing a test to release system for fully vaccinated people from the middle of next month not only fails to recognise the carnage the current system is causing hospitality and the wider economy, but also significantly discriminates against a huge proportion of our workforce. Around 60% of our staff are aged between 15-34 and the vast majority will not have had the opportunity to receive both jabs by the 16th August.
“With cases predicted to continue to rise, this means that hospitality’s recovery after 16 months of lockdown and severely disrupted trading will be harmed. Operators will be forced into reducing their operating hours or closing venues completely. We urge the Government to move quicker on this issue to prevent the summer being cancelled and vast swathes of the population unnecessarily confined to their homes.”