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Pingdemic hits Spalding-area businesses

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Struggling South Holland businesses are facing the added headache of managing the ‘pingdemic’ - with workers forced to isolate after Covid contacts.

Business leaders say the pingdemic - the name given to the rise of notifications from the Covid phone app telling people to isolate for up to 10 days - is putting our firms under big pressure and want traders to be given more help to cope.

Katrina Pierce, development manager of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It’s at the worst possible time for businesses - just as they were starting to get some hope.

Simon Beardsley, Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce
Simon Beardsley, Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce

“We are only just over a week from ‘Freedom Day’ and many businesses are feeling far from that.

“We are finding that so many businesses are either having to massively scale down what they can offer or close altogether.

“It’s quite a complicated cyclone of issues.”

The Spalding Guardian is aware of a couple of venues in the district that have had to close due to staff isolating, while ‘pings’ have played havoc with pre-season football fixtures.

Many people in the food industry can now avoid self isolation if they take a daily test - and the ‘double jabbed’ look likely to avoid the need to isolate from August 16.

Ms Pierce welcomed the exemption for food workers but asked for this to be expanded - particularly for sectors such as logistics in South Holland where driver shortages are already acute.

She also asked for the August 16 rule review to be brought forward, adding: “Businesses want to do the right thing but we have got to keep things going, the economy has got to keep running. We are looking for a sensible way forward.”

Simon Beardsley, chief executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce (pictured), said: “Businesses want to play their part in stopping the spread of the virus while at the same time revive their business after 16 months of disruption and closures, but there are growing concerns that staff being ‘pinged’; and having to self-isolate will put added pressure on businesses, particularly those in the hospitality and leisure sectors.

“We are hearing of local restaurants being forced to temporarily close their doors or offer reduced services as they face critical staff shortages due to self-isolation.

“As these concerns grow for many who aren’t part of the exemption list, businesses continue to do all they can to mitigate the risks, for instance keeping some form of restrictions in place and are asking customers, clients and staff to observe Covid-secure measures, such as wearing masks.

“Businesses face a difficult few weeks ahead, but given the challenges presented to them over the past 16 months and I am confident that any further barriers put to them, these will also be overcome.”

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