Retail and business leaders have called on the government to urgently amend self-isolation policies to end the crippling staff shortages driving many to “critical point”.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Marks & Spencer and another major anonymous supermarket have become the latest to warn of looming food shortages and store closures if no action is taken.
Last week a record 500,000 NHS track-and-trace app users were “pinged” forcing them to self-isolate for 10 days, leading London’s Metropolitan Line to be closed due to a lack of drivers over the weekend.
According to business leaders this disruption was the tip of the iceberg with one leading supermarket, which wished to remain anonymous, telling the BBC it could lead to huge disruption of food supplies.
“And there’s a risk that there won’t be sufficient staff to open shops,” they added.
Marks & Spencer’s chief executive Steve Rowe said: “Our Covid cases are roughly doubling every week and the pinging level is about three to one of Covid cases, so we’re seeing that growing exponentially.
“If there’s shortages we’ll have to manage it by changing hours of stores, reducing hours.”
To avoid “crippling staff shortages”, the CBI has called for new rules to be put in place preventing those who are double jabbed from being forced to self-isolate, and allowing those who receive a negative lateral-flow test result to end isolation early.
According to a poll published in The Times, a whopping one in three people are planning to or already have deleted the NHS app from their phone in response to the huge spike in ‘pings’.