Covid: ‘Summer of closures’ predicted for pubs and restaurants due to ‘pingdemic’

Hospitality bosses have warned pubs and restaurants will have to close again as staff have been left off the critical workers list.
Hospitality bosses have warned pubs and restaurants will have to close again as staff have been left off the critical workers list.

UK Hospitality warn the sector will have 'one tied behind our back' as staff are forced into isolation

Published

A “summer of venue closures” will see pubs and restaurants shuttered after hospitality staff were left off the list of critical workers exempt from self-isolation, industry chiefs have warned, as coronavirus cases continued to rise.

Hotels, clubs and leisure parks are also expected to face closures and shortened opening hours as staff in sectors such as food supply and emergency services were favoured under the measure to tackle the “pingdemic”.

People eat and drink outside a restaurant in Covent Garden Market, London, following the further easing of lockdown restrictions.
People eat and drink outside a restaurant in Covent Garden Market, London, following the further easing of lockdown restrictions.

The UKHospitality trade association warned the sector will have “one tied behind our back” as staff are forced into isolation over Covid-19 contacts during what should be the peak season.

Ministers were facing sustained calls to bring forward the date when all fully vaccinated individuals can avoid isolation over close contacts from August 16.

The mounting criticism came as data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed Covid-19 cases continued to rise, with around one in 75 people in England infected.

The estimate of the number testing positive – 741,700 – in the week to July 17 is the highest number since the week to January 30.

Ministers sought to calm the concerns of industry by publishing a list of sectors whose double-jabbed workers are eligible to avoid isolation if they undergo daily testing.

We now face a summer of venue closures and reduced service

Kate Nicholls UK Hospitality chief executive

In the emergency measures to protect supplies, around 10,000 workers in the food sector were expected to be included in the scheme. Others in key sectors of the economy and vital public services were also included.

But UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the industry she represents has been left to “face the consequences” after it was missed off the list and called for a “more pragmatic solution”.

“We now face a summer of venue closures and reduced service, when we should be at a seasonal peak. The sector will do all it can to provide great service, but it will be with one hand tied behind our back,” she said.

“Those who are fully vaccinated should be able to test after a ping and, subject to a negative result, carry on with their lives. For those not fully vaccinated two negative tests should be sufficient to return to work.”

But the British Medical Association said the problem was not the “excessive pinging” of the NHS Covid-19 app but that the Government’s coronavirus strategy has caused “rocketing case numbers”.

BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said isolation numbers are the “direct result of lack of effective measures by Government that is allowing the virus to let rip throughout the nation”.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government risks “losing social consent” for isolation if it does not immediately bring forward the wider relaxation of quarantine rules.