Calls for further relaxation of self-isolation rules as staff shortages continue to cripple sector

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Calls for further relaxation of self-isolation rules as staff shortages continue to cripple sector

Related tags: Staff, Coronavirus, isolation, NTIA

A leading hospitality trade group has called on the Government to further relax England's self-isolation rules, as businesses continue to wrestle with crippling staff shortages.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents some 1,400 independent bars, clubs and live music venues across the UK, has said the Government should consider reducing the Covid isolation period for workers; or work with the industry to implement a 'test and release' system, which it says would help stem workforce challenges faced by businesses.

It comes after the Government's Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, said at the weekend that reducing the self-isolation period would 'certainly help' with staff absences in the workplace.

People who test positive for Covid are currently required to self-isolate for at least seven days, but there have been calls for this to be cut to five days as is now the case in the US. 

Zahawi told BBC One's Sunday Morning ​show​ that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) had said that there might be a higher spike of cases if the period was reduced. He added that the Government would follow the science, but keep the potential measure under review.

Last week it was reported that absences by hospitality staff in self-isolation have been rocketing​ in recent weeks with operators losing thousands of pounds in revenue.

Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, says the group is asking the Government to consider the pressures on the workforce, not only as employers, but as employees trying to survive.

“Since 'Freedom Day' [last year] we have been plagued with staff and supply chain shortages, further exacerbated by the implementation of new rules due to the Omicron variant, which has since compromised our trading levels, service, and generated a level of anxiety within the workforce and in some cases compromised public safety,” says Kill.

 “We are asking the Government to consider the pressures on the workforce, not only as employers, but as employees trying to survive. Particularly the impact on well being, and the potential job losses if this sector collapses, as one of the biggest employers of 18 -30 year olds within the UK.”

“Our current isolation policy is resulting in considerable losses in staff numbers to illness and isolation, this in turn is placing pressure on the supply chain, and workforce resulting in limitations in trading capacity.”

Kill adds that a lack of Government support is making it harder for firms.

Hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses in England, which have seen severe declines in footfall and increased cancellations due to the impact of the Omicron Covid variant over the festive season, are currently being encouraged by the Government to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises​ to help deal with the losses; support that was met with a lukewarm reception​ by the industry when it was announced.

“We are already seeing an unprecedented level of the workforce and businesses struggling to survive,” continues Kill.

“May I remind the Government that jobs will be lost, if businesses do not survive.”

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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