Iceland boss Richard Walker has called for the isolation period for Covid patients to be slashed to mitigate staff absences.
Absences at the supermarket chain have risen more than 70 per cent in a week, jumping from 1,000 to more than 1,700, the managing director tweeted.
The isolation period is set at a minimum of seven days, providing a Covid positive individual can test negative on two lateral flow test results at least 24 hours apart on days six and seven.
There is also guidance advising people to limit close contact with others and avoid crowded spaces, if they do leave isolation after seven days.
“It would be very helpful to business if the isolation period was cut,” Walker said.
The plea from the supermarket boss came as businesses warned they were likely to see a large numbers of staff absences this week, with schools also reopening after the Christmas break.
The UK has been described as being in a “semi-lockdown”, with 1m Brits currently in isolation after testing positive with the virus.
Speaking to MailOnline, Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay backed calls from bosses to cut the isolation period down to five days.
“We’re almost facing a semi-lockdown because of people being off work who are perfectly well. You couldn’t make that up,” he said.
However, slashing the quarantine period would make staff shortages worse, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
While some people have called for the UK to follow the US in reducing isolation to five days, the UKHSA said the self-isolation guidance in the two countries could not be compared.
Individuals in the UK are instructed to self-isolate from the day symptoms of Covid appear or when they receive a positive test result.
However, in the US, people are asked to isolate for five days following a positive test result, which could be several days after symptoms first appeared.
The UKHSA said its modelling has indicated 10 per cent to 30 per cent of Covid patients will still be infectious on day six.
It said to make the isolation period any shorter “would be counterproductive” and could result in more staff absences at key workplaces, including hospitals.