UK Businesses struggle amidst a ‘pingdemic’
The majority of lockdown restrictions may have now been lifted in England, but UK businesses are struggling more than ever amidst a ‘pingdemic’, with hundreds of thousands of people self-isolating after being pinged by the NHS track and trace app.
The app allows people to ‘check-in’ to places and then aims to alert people when they have been near someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. However, with so many people now being ‘pinged’ as restrictions lift and people mix, the UK’s top business lobby group says crippling staff shortages is threatening to close supermarkets and bring car production lines to a halt.
A growing number of UK businesses are joining Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in urging the UK government to tackle this nationwide “pingdemic” by immediately amending the self-isolation policy for people notified by the NHS test-and-trace app.
There are plans to loosen self-isolation rules on 16th August, however, the CBI believe those who have received two doses of the vaccination should be omitted from the 10-day quarantine, while others could return to work after a test.
The CBI president, Karan Bilimoria, said: “With restrictions being lifted and cases rapidly increasing, we urgently need a surefooted approach from government.
“Building and maintaining confidence is key to securing the economic recovery. Mask-wearing in enclosed spaces, especially transport, will help create confidence for both staff and customers, as will clarity around the future availability of free testing for employees.”
Whilst some supermarkets are forced to close entirely, last week, car manufacturer Nissan said it had to adjust production and Rolls-Royce said the situation had reached ‘critical point’.
As businesses struggle with staff shortages, several surveys have revealed a rise in consumer and business confidence, as businesses were allowed to fully open on ‘freedom day’ (July 19th) when all lockdown restrictions are lifted and an end to social distancing.
Research by Deloitte revealed UK consumer confidence is back to what it was before the pandemic. Four in five consumers said they had saved money during the pandemic, which has lead to discretionary spending rising by 19 percent in the past three months.
As the economy reopened, NatWest bank said small business growth had increased by 60% in June, a fourth successive month of growth.
However, not all businesses are as positive about ‘freedom day’. A poll from small business insurance provider Simply Business found more than half of SMEs believed social distancing restrictions were being lifted too soon and is concerned it will lead to another lockdown.
It would appear that many businesses are taking it on themselves to create ‘house rules’, with many pubs and restaurants sticking to table service and many supermarkets encouraging customers to still wear masks. The Federation of Small Businesses called on consumers to respect companies’ “house rules”.
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Source: The Guardian