UKHospitality (UKH) has criticised the government’s updated rules for self-isolation as part of its roadmap out of lockdown, arguing the new rules do not move quickly enough, nor deal with the industry’s staff shortage crisis.
Yesterday (6 July), health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that double vaccinated people will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. The new rules are set to come into effect on 16 August.
The trade association is arguing that the government is not going far enough to support the sector, however, with hospitality operators dealing with staff shortages from their predominantly younger staff who are less likely to be double vaccinated.
In his announcement, Javid said: “Step-by-step, and jab-by-jab, we’re replacing the temporary protection of the restrictions, with the long-term protection of a vaccine.”
In response, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKH said: “Today’s announcement doesn’t go far enough, quickly enough. The sector is experiencing severe staff shortages, compounded massively by the absence of team members who have been told to isolate despite not having shared shifts with colleagues who tested positive.
“Introducing a test to release system for fully vaccinated people from the middle of next month not only fails to recognise the carnage the current system is causing hospitality and the wider economy, but also significantly discriminates against a huge proportion of our workforce.”
She added: “Around 60% of our staff are aged between 15-34 and the vast majority will not have had the opportunity to receive both jabs by 16 August. With cases predicted to continue to rise, this means that hospitality’s recovery after 16 months of lockdown and severely disrupted trading will be harmed.
“Operators will be forced into reducing their operating hours or closing venues completely. We urge the Government to move quicker on this issue to prevent the summer being cancelled and vast swathes of the population unnecessarily confined to their homes.”