One-Fifth of SME Workers Self-Isolating Due to Covid

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One-Fifth of SME Workers Self-Isolating Due to Covid

One-fifth of small business workers are currently self-isolating, having received a notification from the NHS test-and-trace app, forcing businesses to close.

With an estimated 20 per cent of small business workers currently in self-isolation, many independent shops, restaurants, and bars have had to close for the time being, whilst they are unable to find staff.

Head of UKHospitality, Katie Nicholls, has recently spoken with the Financial Times to comment that self-isolation is affecting small businesses in the hospitality industry the most, with up to 33 per cent of workers currently having to stay home.

Self-isolation is causing problems for small business owners up and down the country, which comes just as the country reopens fully on 19th July.

In the week of July 7th, more than 500,000 people in England were notified to self-isolate, which is the highest figure since the app was launched.

New workplace guidance holds companies legally responsible if employees do not self-isolate.

Workers “pinged” by the NHS track-and-trace app are told to remain home for 10 days if they have come into close contact with an infected person. The pandemic has now become known as the “pingdemic”.

The pingdemic is only expected to affect more and more people, as the virus continues to escalate through the population.

On July 14th, there were 42,302 reported cases of Covid in the UK, which is the highest since January. Health secretary Sajid Javid has now predicted that there will be more than 100,000 new cases of Covid in each day of August.

The government is now planning to make the NHS Covid app less sensitive by August 16th, in order to reduce the number of people being notified.

But before then, the BBC has estimated that 4.5m could be told to isolate.

And the UK government has pushed the decision as to whether to ask customers to wear a mask on business owners. In England anyway, in Scotland and Wales, it is still mandatory to wear a mask.

The official advice issued yesterday told shops that “the government expects and recommends that people continue to wear a face-covering in crowded, enclosed spaces”. It asked retailers to “consider encouraging, for example through signage, the use of face coverings by workers, particularly in indoor areas where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet”. Similar advice applies in other workplaces.

Restaurants, pubs, and bars are also being encouraged to keep many Covid restrictions in place, post-July 19th. They have been told to consider asking customers to order through apps, opt for contactless payments, discourage self-service, and provide disposable condiments.

Venues should “encourage the use of outside space where practical”, especially for “higher-risk activity, such as exercise or when people are singing”.

Although it is no longer a legal requirement for businesses to ask customers to “check-in”, continuing to do so is one of the best things they can do in order to control the spread of Covid.

Trade unions and some business executives have warned that the government’s decision to tell companies what is “expected” without putting any legal requirements in place, will put pressure on staff.

Hannah Essex, the co-director of the British Chambers of Commerce, has commented that the government guidance has left companies confused on “whether they will be held liable should they make changes to the way they operate” from July 19th. 

She said: “Companies now have just five days to make this judgment call and effectively communicate it to staff and customers.”

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