UKHospitality has called for the government to immediately review and amend its test and trace guidelines on self-isolation, which it says are proving massively disruptive for hospitality businesses across the UK and leading to venue closures and reduced operating hours.
The current system forces already struggling hospitality businesses to shut their doors, and can result in whole teams needing to self-isolate. The trade body also warned of the damage that any similar approach would wreak on wider society, triggering mass isolations.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said: “For some weeks we have been telling Government about the severe staff shortages at venues, compounded massively by the absence of staff members who have been told to isolate despite not having shared shifts with colleagues who tested positive.
“We need urgent clarification of isolation policy to reflect the enormous success of the vaccine roll out and we urge the Cabinet Office to amend the current isolation policy as soon as possible, and certainly ahead of the 19th July, to address the challenges of the current system.
“A sensible and pragmatic approach would be to extend the ‘test to remain’ system for vaccinated staff to hospitality. That would avoid businesses being forced to close, losing thousands of pounds of revenue at a time when cash reserves are low or non-existent following 16 months of closure and punitive trading restrictions.
“If the system remains as it is, there’s a threat of mass isolations, which would hugely damage trade, putting many companies at risk of failure. Hospitality is eager to trade its way back to prosperity, so ideally the Government should act to ensure that vast swathes of the population are not unnecessarily confined to their homes due to rules formulated before the successful vaccine roll out. A strong focus on testing when cases are identified, rather than isolating fit and healthy people, would help to avoid mass isolations.”