Scottish Hospitality Group proposes solution for ‘pingdemic’ uncertainties

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish Hospitality Group proposes solution for ‘pingdemic’ uncertainties

Related tags: isolation, track and trace, Scottish Hospitality Group, Coronavirus

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has proposed a new process to guide businesses struggling to cope with the so-called ‘pingdemic’, which is forcing thousands of workers into self-isolation.

The process (pictured below) is a practical flowchart that employers can follow to assess the risk to staff while waiting for test results from colleagues with symptoms.

It categorises staff as 'no risk', 'definite risk' and 'potential risk' based on a series of prompts such as vaccination history; if they have had Covid; and how closely they work with others. It then provides recommend actions for each category.

The SHG, which comprises many of Scotland's largest and best-known restaurant and bar businesses, has shared the process with Westminster and Holyrood governments and is urging them to consider using it as official guidance to help businesses manage the staffing crisis affecting multiple sectors including hospitality.

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It follows an announcement this morning (23 July) that hospitality workers will not be exempt from self-isolation if they are ‘pinged’, despite the introduction of a limited new scheme allowing double-jabbed food workers to avoid self-isolation.

There have been warnings that hospitality could face a lockdown 'in all but name'​ as more and more businesses close because of staff being 'pinged' by the NHS app.

A straw poll among hospitality firms by SHG found that businesses are having to spend around 40% of their lost revenue to close and reopen – meaning that a £10,000 bill becomes £14,000.

According to UKHospitality, up to a fifth of staff in the sector are isolating at any one time.

“Business owners want to do the right thing by their staff and the public, so the lack of clear, consistent guidance from both governments is really frustrating," says SHG spokesperson Stephen Montgomery. 

"The fact that we need to make decisions which affect our businesses, the health and safety of our staff and customers, means we can't afford to sit back and wait for Test & Protect to get in touch.  

“This is something that Holyrood and Westminster must take seriously ahead of restrictions easing further. Our proposed process may not be perfect but it’s better than the vacuum we have just now and it would allow everyone to make sensible decisions that balance jobs and health.

“As an industry, of course we agree with the principle of testing and tracing to stop transmission, but ultimately it has to be underpinned by a robust system that actually works. This, coupled with the staffing crisis in hospitality, is just another push into business closure, especially now that businesses are being asked to contribute 10% towards furloughed employees' unworked wages.”  

Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that fully vaccinated people in England will not have to self isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid, but only from 16 August; a decision that trade body UKHospitality said 'doesn’t go far enough, quickly enough'​.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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