A social care boss says he needs 400 social workers immediately to "stem a rising crisis" - as he suggested under-employed hospitality workers could be loaned to councils to help out.
As restaurant and pubs worry about the prospect of further restrictions after Christmas, the executive director of adult social services in Norfolk said the idea could be a "win-win" for the two sectors.
James Bullion said while the hospitality industry had found itself with a large number of "under-employed" workers at the moment, he was unable to find enough people to meet the social care needs of the county.
"In my area, there are 1,400 vacancies at the moment and we need 300 or 400 people now if we are to stem what is a rising crisis," he said.
"At the moment, this week in Norfolk, there is something like 10,000 home care hours that I can't find, that I need to find, to help the hospital discharge people. Today, there are 400 or so people in our three main hospitals who cannot be discharged - and half of them need social care.
"It's not that we're short of money - but we are short of people."
Mr Bullion said he wanted to speak to hospitality businesses about borrowing their workers - whom he believed would have the right people skills and values for social care - for around three months while they were experiencing a downturn in customers.
Many pubs and restaurants have reported a rush of cancellations following warnings from government about the Omicron variant of Covid and uncertainty over how dangerous it is.
The Norfolk County Council social care boss said he could pay their staff and train them to work as carers before returning them in the spring once any restrictions and concerns had eased.
And he believes it is a system that could work across the country - but stressed it needed support from government to help the two industries work together.
"I'm not trying to steal the staff permanently," he added. "But people would have a good time doing this and they would be doing a good thing for our community as well.
"I think they would really find it rewarding."