As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and with the continuing rise of vaccinated adults, the UK economy is starting to recover after months of limited customer spending and hundreds of businesses closing.
Although prospects for the UK economy have improved, businesses across the country are being pummelled by staff shortages this week after hundreds of thousands of people were ‘pinged’ by the NHS Test and Trace app in the latest ‘pingdemic’ battle.
At least half a dozen industry bodies from across the healthcare, transport, retail, and manufacturing sectors have warned staff shortages caused by the alerts from the NHS Test and Trace app will cause widespread business disruption.
With more than half a million people in England being pinged by the Test and Trace app in a week, the highest figure recorded. A total of 520,194 alerts were sent to users of the NHS COVID-19 app in the week of 7th July, telling them they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus and to self-isolate.
Companies are reporting between 5% and 10% of their workforce have been 'pinged' by the app and asked to self-isolate, leading to huge staff shortages, loss of income and strained work environments.
This is on top of the desperate shortage of workers that the industry is already suffering, the UK workforce situation could potentially deteriorate further, resulting in companies being forced to close.
Recently, the UK government has launched their new intuitive “Shortage Occupation List”, which allows the government to offer temporary work visas to foreign nationals who have skills that are currently needed in the UK.
The list would enable industries to temporarily fill growing vacancies until the "current crisis” has passed.
What’s more, UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that thousands of critical staff who are double jabbed will be freed from the Track and Trace app. Essential workers in the energy industry, telecoms, food supply and parts of law enforcement will be allowed to head out to work if they have a Covid contact.
Although plans to exempt double-jabbed workers from isolation do not come into force until August 16th, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, warned that people who test positive will still have to self-isolate for 10 days.
The ‘pingdemic’ calls for businesses to persevere and innovate. This means that in the short term, businesses may need to rotate employees into different roles, as well as change existing ways of working.
Employers should make workplace changes to reduce the likelihood of contact with others and being pinged – whether that may mean returning to early-COVID days of social distancing, reduced opening hours, or more people working from home, it is a decision that will have to be made.
Business leaders have a moral responsibility to protect others and prevent further pressure on the NHS. They should respond in a way that protects their employees and gives them adequate financial protection and flexibility to self-isolate, as well as making workplace changes to reduce the likelihood of being pinged’.
Finally, as much as the ‘pingdemic’ is a concern, it is vital that businesses continue to function and support the recovery of the UK economy as best as they can, whilst continuing to prevent the health threat of COVID-19.
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