NHS app change ‘not a silver bullet’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Industry reaction: UKH boss Kate Nicholls (left) and BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin welcomed the change but warned about the impact of the 'pingdemic' on the trade
Industry reaction: UKH boss Kate Nicholls (left) and BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin welcomed the change but warned about the impact of the 'pingdemic' on the trade

Related tags Legislation British beer & pub association ukhospitality Kate nicholls Emma McClarkin

A software update to the NHS Covid app, meaning it will notify fewer contacts from a Covid positive case has been cautiously welcomed by trade bodies.

Currently, the app looks for close contacts of the positive case in the five days prior to a test however, the changes mean it will look back two days instead.

Research from UKHospitality (UKH) just yesterday (Monday 2 August) found six in 10 hospitality firms have had staff off work after being ‘pinged’, resulting in 267,000 of the industry’s workforce having recently been or are currently self-isolating​.

“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,” UKH boss Kate Nicholls said.

Help alleviate pressure

She added: “This will help to alleviate some of the pressure currently being experienced by hard-hit businesses, but is not a silver bullet.

“The fact fully vaccinated staff will still currently have to self-isolate is a significant barrier to venues operating viably and moving towards recovery. We urge the Government to update guidance and bring forward a workable test to release scheme at the soonest possible opportunity.”

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin welcomed changes to the app with an estimated 1,000 pubs having to temporarily close due to staff being ‘pinged.

Huge effect on recovery

She added: “We welcome any changes to the NHS app which reduce the severity of the pingdemic and prevent unnecessary isolation.

“The so called pingdemic has had a huge effect on the recovery of our sector. It has meant that as many as 1,000 pubs have had to temporarily close due to staff of pubs being pinged.

“On average, each pub forced to temporarily close due to staff being pinged costs £9,500 in lost trade per week and our larger venues much, much more at a critical time in their recovery. 

“If the changes to the app do not bring about the desired shift in the severity of the pingdemic, then the Government must explore other options. A test to release system is critical for our sector to unlock our young workforce. 

“On top of changes to the NHS app, more investment is needed for our sector if it is to recover and play a leading role in building back better. The Government must do this by reforming VAT, beer duty and business rates by which pubs and other hospitality businesses are greatly overtaxed.”

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