The Scottish Hospitality Group has proposed a new process to guide businesses struggling to cope with the ‘pingdemic’ forcing thousands of workers into self-isolation. Companies are being left in limbo unsure what to do about staff who have not been ‘pinged’ themselves but may be close contacts of those who were.
The recommended approach could avoid businesses having to close unnecessarily. It has shared the process with Westminster and Holyrood governments and is urging them to consider using it as official guidance to help bosses manage the staffing crisis affecting multiple sectors and which is threatening the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
In line with many other business organisations in recent days, the Scottish Hospitality Group has warned that a number of operators are being forced to close temporarily because of the delays and confusion generated by Scotland’s Test & Protect system. 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.
The process is a practical flowchart that bosses 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.
SHG spokesperson Stephen Montgomery said, “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. 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.”