267k hospitality staff off work thanks to ‘pingdemic’

By Nikkie Thatcher contact

- Last updated on GMT

Industry impact: more than three quarters of a million hospitality staff members have recently or are currently self-isolating after being 'pinged' (image: Getty/coldsnowstorm)
Industry impact: more than three quarters of a million hospitality staff members have recently or are currently self-isolating after being 'pinged' (image: Getty/coldsnowstorm)

Related tags: Legislation, Health and safety, Recruitment, Staff, ukhospitality, Late-night venues

Six in 10 hospitality firms have had staff off work after being ‘pinged’ resulting in 267,000 – the equivalent of 13% of the industry’s workforce having recently been or are currently self-isolating, according to a trade survey.

UKHospitality (UKH), which conducted the poll of its members, also revealed four in 10 operators have been forced to fully or partially close, as a result.

Furthermore, almost half (47%) have had to reduce trading hours, about 60% are relying on remaining staff to work longer hours while others have scaled back menus (39%) and/or are offering a takeaway-only service (8%).

The trade body has urged the Government for immediate action, particularly in light of recent research, which found the sector suffered more than a £100bn fall in sales due to the pandemic​.

Crucial role

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls 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.”     

Meanwhile, in the late-night sector, a survey from the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) involving 213 businesses found 78% had lost staff to self-isolation rules.

Carnage brought

It went on to highlight how businesses had lost a quarter (25%) of their total workforce over a seven day period and almost three quarters (72%) felt they would have to temporarily close parts of their operation or reduce trading hours due to shortages.

NTIA boss Michael Kill echoed Nicholls' comments about a 'test and release' scheme for the trade. He said: “The figures revealed in our survey are hardly surprising as we have seen first-hand, the carnage brought to operations due to last minute staffing deficiencies.

“In short, this has become a logistical nightmare for managers and team members, has hindered our ability to plan and has brought with it, similar operational challenges to what we faced during the lockdowns but without the corresponding Government support.

“While we fully understand the importance of taking precautions to contain Covid-19, there must be a more efficient solution than forcing our businesses and workers into a perpetual limbo and we would urgently ask the Government to introduce a ‘test and release’ scheme for our industry.”

Related topics: Legislation

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