Travel disruption across region and hundreds absent from Nissan over self-isolating

Hundreds of workers at Nissan are self-isolating while transport services across the region have been disrupted over driver shortages.

Vehicle production has been altered at Sunderland's Nissan plant to accommodate for staff following Test and Trace rules.

Services on the Tyne and Wear Metro have been cancelled and Stagecoach says it has been hit by a "significant increase" in drivers isolating.

Production affected

Nissan, which has a workforce of about six thousand, would not confirm the exact number of workers who are self-isolating but said it was "in the hundreds".

A spokesperson said there were "rigorous safety controls... on site" and "the wellbeing of the team is the number one priority".

The move to adjust production comes against a picture of rising coronavirus cases in the region - which is now home to nine of the top ten places with the highest covid rates.

Service disruption

On the Tyne and Wear Metro there have been some service cancellations as more than a fifth of drivers are absent.

A spokesperson told ITV Tyne Tees that 38 of its 174 drivers are absent - 21 of which are due to self-isolation alerts via the NHS app.

They added: "This has meant some service cancellations – but we are still able to run a frequent service.

"It has largely affected extra peak time Metro trains, and some core services.

 "It is a fluid situation though, as some drivers who were self isolating due to test and trace alerts are due back soon."

One of the biggest bus operators in the region, Stagecoach, has also affected by what it said was a "significant increase" in drivers self-isolating.

And Redcar and Cleveland Council is 21 waste collection workers down this week, meaning some services are temporarily suspended.

'We're just just really getting back into our stride again'

The organisation which represents manufacturing firms, Make UK, said it was happening at a time when companies needed it least.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said: "The North East is a rich manufacturing environment. We have a lot of factories there, we have a lot of high-tech advanced manufacturing and of course we're just just really getting back into our stride again.

"So it's the same as the national picture in my view in that what we don't want to see is large amounts of people having to self-isolate and then restricting what we can do in terms of output because now's the time to take advantage of it."

The government has acknowledged the issue and said despite the positives, it will look at whether the response is proportionate.