The end of lockdown has brought a predictable, but overlooked issue challenge that is causing havoc across Industries; from the NHS, supermarkets and hospitality, to builders merchants, food service and beyond.
The rising challenge coined the ‘Pingdemic’ has quickly been highlighted as a consequence of the NHS track & trace app, and has resulted in thousands of workers throughout the UK being told to self-isolate as rising cases coincide with a mass return to work.
The issue surrounds accessibility to work, with suppliers, distributors and retailers having warned that supply is not a cause for concern, it is simply an inability to get produce to the shelves due to these staff shortages.
One proposed response has been to log those workers who have received both vaccination, and follow this with a trickle-return approach to workers being able to attend work, but the sensitivity of the track & trace app’s alerts has consistently caused workers to re-isolate multiple times. This couples with the uncertainty as to the vaccine’s complete prevention of COVID-19, alongside the additional anxieties surrounding new variants of the virus.
Others have called for a reduction in the app’s sensitivity, which has been firmly ruled out by the Government.
Admittedly, the UK’s Government have had to balance the re-opening of the economy with the very persistent presence of COVID-19, which has proven enormously challenging. However, NHS workers and medical professionals throughout the UK have criticised the decision to re-open establishments with the so-called ‘Freedom day’ of July 19th, 2021.
Concerning the UK’s Wholesale Industry, the FWD’s Chief Executive. James Bielby, spoke out stating that “we now have a process in place whereby we can keep people working, keep the wheels turning, keep food on shelves and on menus – and that’s a significant improvement on where we were a week ago.” (1)
From an economic point of view, the re-opening of pubs, restaurants and the like is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, yet there remains massive uncertainty with the availability of workers and the ability to meet growing demand.
There is now a huge emphasis placed on risk avoidance and preventative measures whilst certain workers are allowed to return, but the growth of COVID cases throughout the UK poses a very important question as to whether our Government’s proposed ‘freedom day’ is really the best course of action.