Businesses face more 'pingdemic' staff shortages

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

Small business owners in the South say the high number of staff having to isolate is more damaging to their livelihoods than the pandemic itself. They say uncertainty at staying open coupled with less financial support from the Government is creating a 'dire situation', particularly in the hospitality industry.

The Government says vaccinations are the key to getting back to normal.

The Andover Tap had to close due to staff members being 'pinged'. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The Andover Tap had to close because some of the staff were pinged. All then had negative test results. They were double jabbed but still had to self-isolate.

The owner, Tim Abram, says "It's difficult to understand why we still have to self-isolate, and especially as it's quite damaging to the business, but I do understand that it's necessary for public protection".

And Tim isn't alone. The Wicks Restaurant Group in Hampshire had to turn away dozens of guests last week after all six of their chefs were 'pinged' by the Test and Trace app. So far at least seven thousand pounds of income has been lost.

And again, none of the staff have tested positive, so the owner says the rules should allow him to open. 

  • George Madgwick, Wicks Restaurant Group

Gorge Madgwick from Wicks Restaurant Group, says: "A lateral flow test every single morning prior to attending work for all staff that have been pinged... surely that is more than acceptable and it reduces the risk dramatically".

From August 16th people who are double jabbed can take a test rather then self-isolate. But that's unlikely to help the hospitality industry, where most employees are young. 

One organisation which represents small businesses is calling for an extension of the workplace testing scheme, and says the government should offer financial help for people most impacted by the self-isolation rules. 

  • Jemma Fairclough-Haynes, Federation of Small Businesses

Jemma Fairclough-Haynes of the Federation of Small Businesses, says: "Right at the beginning of the pandemic we saw the government offering grants for various different industries".

"I think they need to consider something similar because we've already been though a difficult 18 months and this could just be the final knife, as it were".

But the government says the answer is for more young people to get vaccinated. 

  • Vicky Ford MP, Government spokesperson

Conservative MP, Vicky Ford, says: "It is so important that people do step forward for that vaccination and second dose because we know that's what gives people that protection against the more serious forms of Covid".

So, no sign that the situation will change for many small businesses: they can only hope the app stays green.