Supermarkets and pubs shut their doors today as the so-called “pingdemic” results in staff shortages across the country.
Iceland boss Richard Walker said some of their 1,000 UK stores had been forced to close by the NHS app ‘pinging’ staff with orders to self-isolate.
And the CEO of pub chain Greene King, Nick Mackenzie, has said that he has been forced to close 33 pubs in the last seven days owing to shortages.
In the week up to the 7 July a total of 520,194 alerts were sent to users of the app that they had been in close contact with someone with Covid-19.
That reflected a 46 per cent rise on the previous week.
Mackenzie believes the app displaying such sensitivity is not sustainable.
“Across the industry we think one in five of our team members have been affected by this,” he said.
Mackenzie continued: “We need some clarity from government on how the app works. We need them to move to a test and release scheme to get us back to normal again.”
Mackenzie’s words come amid dismay in the services sector at the sheer numbers being forced to isolate at what was meant to be the time of reopening and moving forward.
The UK retail lobby yesterday warned that Britain’s current self-isolation system will lead to disruption to businesses with millions set to be told to isolate in the coming weeks.
“Certainly, from a retail point of view we’re seeing the impact in distribution centres up and down the country…with late deliveries and not everything necessarily arriving on time that can lead to increased food waste in the supply chain, which is obviously really bad,” Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said.
While M&S chief executive Steve Rowe told The Times that the number of people being pinged by the NHS app was proving to be “a major issue across every industry at the moment”.
“Our Covid cases are roughly doubling every week and the pinging level is about three to one of Covid cases, so we’re seeing that growing exponentially,” he continued.