The managing director of the supermarket warns the government of urgent staff shortage challenges for businesses caused by a “broken” test and trace system, as “Freedom Day” approaches.
Richard Walker said that despite fewer covid deaths and hospitalisations, he was facing the greatest pandemic challenges to running the frozen foods grocer yet, in a Daily Mail column.
Staff shortages, not because they contracted the virus themselves but, due to workers falling victim to “the so-called pingdemic”, are to blame, Walker said.
The NHS Test and Trace app system works by sending a “ping” notification to anyone who has potentially had contact with someone who has tested positive, with instructions to self-isolate at home for ten days.
Around 4.6 million people per week could be forced to self-isolate until the rules are dropped, according to estimates by the Adam Smith Institute.
“Today I am in the unprecedented position of being forced to close our stores because I do not have enough people to staff them,” Walker said.
The number of Iceland staff off work shot to an “alarming” 50 per cent last week, according to Walker who suspects the figure will continue to rise.
The government has said that most covid restrictions will ease from 19 July but some measures will stay in place, including the NHS Test and Trace app.
Walker called the system “a mess” and criticised the inability of individuals to take a test to avoid the isolation, or to appeal. The fact that the system is both voluntary and unpoliced are some of the root problems, Walker said.
He warned that many would be tempted to ignore the notifications, particularly if they are symptomless and double vaccinated, or need to work for financial reasons.