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‘Pingdemic’ eases as self-isolation rules change

Published:  16 August, 2021

Hospitality workers who are double-jabbed will no longer have to self-isolate at home for 10 days after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid.

The changes to the rules come into effect today for workers in England and Northern Ireland. They are expected to vastly lessen the effects of the so-called ‘Pingdemic’ on businesses where vital employees have had to take time out of work after they were contacted via the government track and trace app.

The changes to self-isolation rules have already been implemented in Scotland and Wales.

The relaxing of the rules has been met with a sigh of relief from the hospitality sector, which is in the midst of a staffing crisis and suffering prolonged closures.

According to CGA and AlixPartners’ latest Market Recovery Monitor, some 7,000 licensed premises remain in limbo, not yet re-opening after last month’s ‘Freedom Day’, yet not permanently closed.

Some sectors are closer to full capacity than others, with nightclubs and sports and social clubs still having the highest number of outlets closed.

There has also been a stronger reopening for eating venues than drinking ones. Just over 98% of food-led licensed premises were back trading by the end of July, compared to 91.4% of drink-led sites.

“It’s very promising that well over nine in 10 venues are back open again,” Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said. “Trading numbers are now at their highest point since Covid-19 hit, and a modest but steady flow of new venues suggest that the worst of the crisis may now be behind us.

“However, with so many sites yet to reopen, more business failures are inevitable. Thousands of businesses remain vulnerable, and their future will now depend on how well they can overcome major challenges such as the high debt levels many have.”

The new Market Recovery Monitor also provides a review of hospitality’s site numbers over the course of the pandemic. Britain’s total licensed premises plunged by more than 9,000 between Spring 2020 and 2021 – 8.1% of the pre-Covid total. However, total site numbers have edged up slightly in the last two months, indicating that confidence and investment in the sector are starting to return.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said today’s changes to self-isolation guidance were part of a cautious “step back towards normality”.

“Vaccines are what will bring this pandemic to an end, with over 84,000 lives already saved and 23 million infections prevented,” he added.

Instead of having to quarantine for 10 days, workers are now advised to take a PCR test, though this is not compulsory.