New figures from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) have today revealed the devastating impact of the ‘pingdemic’ on night time businesses, with a survey of NTIA members finding that 78% of businesses had lost staff to self-isolation rules in one week following ‘Freedom Day’.
The survey also revealed that, on average, businesses had lost 25% of their total workforce over a seven-day period and 72% of businesses now felt they would have to temporarily close parts of their operation or reduce opening hours due to shortages.
Industry leaders are now calling for a ‘test and release’ scheme for hospitality and event staff to mitigate the impact these shortages will have on employers, employees, and customers in the sector, which has already been one of the hardest-hit parts of the economy.
Nicknamed the ‘pingdemic’, workplaces across the country have faced extreme operational barriers due to the erratic unavailability of staff forced to isolate for 10 full days a result of possible contact with coronavirus. Shortages have forced venues to drastically reduce opening hours, and some to even close completely.
Ministers have since provided a list of exempted sectors and industries, allowing vaccinated staff in ‘critical’ workplaces to avoid enforced isolation. However, hospitality and night time economy industries were not included in this list and now the sector warns that staffing turmoil will undermine its economic recovery without Government intervention. Hospitality is the UK’s third largest employer, and the night time economy supports over 1.5 million employees and a large supply chain of sole traders and auxiliary businesses. Significant portions of staff in the night time economy are young people, and many of these workers have yet to have had the opportunity to receive two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and thus be exempt from new isolation rules being implemented from August 16th.6 As a result, the ‘pingdemic’ is particularly acute for the sector, and the Government’s planned policy for reducing the impact of this chaos will likely have less effect than in other sectors.
Michael Kill, Chief Executive of the Night Time Industries Association, says:
“The figures revealed in our survey today are hardly surprising, as we have seen first-hand the carnage brought to operations due to last-minute staffing deficiencies. In short, this has become a logistical nightmare for managers and team members, has hindered our ability to plan, and has brought with it, similar operational challenges to what we faced during the lockdowns but without the corresponding Government support.”
“While we fully understand the importance of taking precautions to contain Covid-19, there must be a more efficient solution than forcing our businesses and workers into a perpetual limbo, and we would urgently ask the Government to introduce a ‘test and release’ scheme for our industry.”