'Pingdemic' | Greene King & Iceland among firms having to shut workplaces

Greene King & Iceland among firms having to shut workplaces

Pub chain Greene King and supermarket Iceland are among several firms currently having to close down shops and pubs due to staff shortages caused by staff having to self-isolate by the NHS COVID-19 app. This is being referred to as the ‘pingdemic’.

Greene King confirmed that it had been forced to close 33 of its pubs in the last week due to staff self-isolating, whilst Iceland stated that up to 1,000 of its staff have currently been ordered to isolate, after being ‘pinged’ by the app, as reported by the BBC.

Figures published by the ONS show that more than 500,000 people in England and Wales were ‘pinged’ by the app – which means that they received a notification ordering them to cut contact with others and remain at home for ten days – in the week of 7 July.

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This represents a steep rise of 46% on the previous week.

Vauxhall & M&S

Other firms including car maker Vauxhall and supermarket chain Marks & Spencer have also suffered shortages as a result of orders to isolate. The former was having to reduce shifts at its Luton-based plant and the latter saying that it may have to reduce store opening hours.

Iceland’s Chief Executive Richard Walker, said that all supermarkets are currently facing the prospect of reduced hours, as the volume of staff being forced into isolation continues to grow.

"The concern is that as this thing rises exponentially as we've just been hearing. It could get a lot worse a lot quicker," he told the BBC's Today programme.

He added that around four per cent of Iceland’s 30,000 staff was now absent.

"In fact, we've just announced employing an additional 2,000 people on top of that, to give us a deeper pool of labour, because so many people are now getting pinged," Walker noted.

'Toilet troubles'

With lots of people currently being told to isolate, organisations could be facing a workflow or staffing crisis – with HR and bosses at the centre.

In fact, last week, HR Grapevine reported on one holiday park in Cornwall which had to ask customers to clean toilets with staff forced to isolate, according to the Mirror.

The holiday park based in Padstow, Cornwall, blamed the current NHS Test and Trace app and said it had sent “ping” notifications to “healthy” staff members, telling them to self-isolate for ten days.

Patrick Langmaid, Owner at the park, said he had no choice but to ask guests to help out due to “desperate times”.

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