You’ve been pinged: “Pingdemic” deals yet another blow for the hospitality sector

September 2, 2021


2 min read

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What's going on here?

The number of people being “pinged” by the NHS COVID-19 app has rocketed, leading to the chaos which has unfolded being dubbed as the “pingdemic”. As a result, many businesses are facing major staff shortages due to vast numbers of workers being required to self-isolate by the app.

What does this mean?

The increase in notifications requiring workers to self-isolate has caused devastation for both the affected businesses and their employees, especially businesses with smaller workforces. This problem has exacerbated the pre-existing shortages in industries, such as hospitality, with one in five workers having left work during the pandemic. This has led to businesses operating with far fewer staff and reduced opening hours or not being able to operate at all with forced closures. After an extremely tough year for the hospitality industry, “pingdemic” has dealt yet another blow, especially for employees. This is due to the fact that many of the affected workers rely on tips as part of their income, which they cannot receive if they are forced to self-isolate by the app, often unnecessarily. This has understandably caused much frustration for workers and business owners, struggling to remain open with such limited numbers of staff available.

What's the big picture effect?

With the “pingdemic” having clearly become a real problem for many businesses, there has been a recent update made to the NHS COVID-19 app to ensure that fewer contacts of those who have tested positive for the virus are told to isolate. This has led to the number of alerts sent to users of the app having decreased significantly in the past week. However, it is not entirely clear if this drop in numbers is due to the update, a decrease in COVID-19 cases or the fact that many people have deleted their app in the midst of the “pingdemic”. Regardless of the reason for the decline, it seems likely that the figures will have continued to lower due to the introduction of new rules on 16 August. These new rules meant that people who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to isolate when identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for the virus. This is more encouraging news for businesses where employees cannot easily work from home, such as the hospitality sector, with less staff being forced to take time off work unnecessarily to self-isolate. Hopefully, this means that the worst of the “pingdemic” is now over for businesses.

Report written by Imogen Wilson

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