A modification to the NHS Covid 19 app has been dubbed “pretty pathetic” by one of the co-founders of Inception Group, who said isolation alerts had “changed the playing field” for London hospitality.
Fewer Covid contacts are to be notified to self-isolate with individuals now notified if they have been in contact with someone in the two days prior to them testing positive, instead of five.
The news was welcomed by bosses but trade body UKHospitality warned the change was not a “silver bullet” for the sector which has seen venue close because of staff shortages.
Operator Inception Group, which runs the Mr Fogg’s concept bars and Maggie’s nightclub in the City, was forced to shut three venues for ten days at the height of the ‘pingdemic’, resulting in losses of “several thousand pounds”.
“It’s a pretty pathetic step albeit in the right direction”, Inception Group co-founder Charlie Gilkes told City A.M, of the app update. “Anything to stop this chaos is obviously positive.”
Gilkes said he was “hanging on until sense prevails” on 16 August, when double-jabbed close contacts of coronavirus sufferers will be able to dodge self-isolation provided they test negative.
The operator reiterated sector calls for a ‘test to release’ scheme to be introduced, similar to international travel rules.
“You’re seeing other devolved nations going for it [ahead of England]. I don’t know where this arbitrary 16 August date has been selected from,” Gilkes said.
People who test positive for the virus should also be exempt from isolating for six months under the 16 August changes, the operator added. “It seems crazy to be asking people to isolate who have just had Covid.”
Some 267,000 people or 13 per cent of the hospitality workforce have recently been, or are currently, self-isolating, according to survey results from UKHospitality.
Hospitality businesses in England should not have to pay the full 20 per cent VAT from September and the hike from five per cent will result in mass inflation, Gilkes said, pointing to continuations of support in Wales and Scotland.
Gilkes said: “That doesn’t seem just to me. The pingdemic has changed the playing field and caused additional economic harm to hospitality businesses. As the conditions change so should levels of support.”