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Restaurant owners forced to CLOSE because too many staff are isolating

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More furious pub and restaurant owners today came forward to blast the NHS Test and Trace app for causing a staffing crisis, with businesses forced to close because employees are being repeatedly pinged.

Workers must stay at home for up to ten days after coming into contact with a positive case even if they test negative for Covid.

Hospitality chiefs want this changed so that anyone who receives a negative result can go back to work as part of a ‘test and release scheme’.

Meanwhile, the NHS is facing similar issues with up to a fifth of staff in parts of the UK off on sick leave and self-isolation notifications increasing the burden on already threadbare rotas.

Even employees who have been double-jabbed and test negative for Covid had to stay at home – a situation healthcare chiefs want changed.

The issue of nurses being off work due to contact tracing and mandatory self-isolation is a ‘big issue’, one top-level NHS official told The Telegraph.

A senior NHS manager added: ‘The rules around [self-isolation] need a rethink. I’ve got lots of medics who are saying, ”I’m double jabbed, I’ve done a flow test, I’m negative, can I come back to work?”.’

Hospitality chiefs and NHS bosses are frustrated that the Test and Trace app – for which Matt Hancock (pictured) was a cheerleader – is causing a staffing crisis 

Nick Collins, chief executive of the chain Loungers, which runs 173 cafe-bars, has had to temporarily close some sites

Steve Alton, CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping, called self-isolating staff 'a huge problem'

Nick Collins, (left) chief executive of the chain Loungers, which runs 173 cafe-bars, has had to temporarily close some sites. Steve Alton, (right) CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping, called self-isolating staff ‘a huge problem’

Meanwhile, NHS consultant Ben Lovell tweeted: ‘Desperately desperately desperately understaffed due to the NHS Covid app telling Covid-negative, asymptomatic, double-vaxxed doctors to go into isolation for up to 10 days at a time. This cannot go on.’

New figures out yesterday revealed fewer people who contract Covid are falling badly ill, with just one in 100 NHS beds being taken up by Covid patients in England last week — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave, according to official figures that highlight the power of the vaccines.

The low inpatient numbers are made more impressive by the fact average daily infections have risen to more than 20,000 due to an outbreak of the ultra-infectious Indian variant.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics and the NHS suggest that the number of Britons self-isolating will rise to 1.7million by the end of July, according to analysis by the Adam Smith Institute.

The think-tank’s deputy director, Matt Kilcoyne, said Test and Trace was a ‘great idea at the height of the previous waves when we had no treatments and no vaccines’.

He added: ‘Now it means millions forced to sit at home who pose no risk but are going bear the brunt of lost income, passing the buck on to businesses that will take less income.

‘Matt Hancock might well have left office, but we’re at risk of his legacy being an app that kills the economy.’

Nick Collins, chief executive of the chain Loungers, which runs 173 cafe-bars, has had to temporarily close some sites.

‘It’s really challenging,’ he told the BBC, adding that he fears the situation ‘could get worse’ as cases continue to spike.

NHS consultant Ben Lovell tweeted has complained about the problems caused by NHS staff self-isolating despite testing negative and being double-jabbed

NHS consultant Ben Lovell tweeted has complained about the problems caused by NHS staff self-isolating despite testing negative and being double-jabbed

He tweeted: 'Desperately desperately desperately understaffed due to the NHS Covid app telling Covid-negative, asymptomatic, double-vaxxed doctors to go into isolation for up to 10 days at a time. This cannot go on'

He tweeted: ‘Desperately desperately desperately understaffed due to the NHS Covid app telling Covid-negative, asymptomatic, double-vaxxed doctors to go into isolation for up to 10 days at a time. This cannot go on’

Mike Reeves, who runs the Yew Tree in Walton le Dale, Preston, closed his site this week after the majority of his staff were alerted by NHS Test and Trace to isolate, costing the pub between £15,000 and £20,000.

He told The Morning Advertiser: ‘We’ve had to shut in a week with decent weather and two England games. We’re just left in limbo because everyone has different dates [for when isolation.’

Mr Reeves wants isolation period shortened. ‘You just get a ping on your phone and you have no way of knowing what the contact was,’ he said.

Graham Harris, chief financial officer at the East London Pub Co, said the issue was ‘limiting’ his businesses’ ability to recover.

Admiral Taverns CEO Chris Jowsey suggested hospitality had been ‘unfairly targeted’ throughout the pandemic while Steve Alton, CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping, called self-isolating staff ‘a huge problem’.   

A single Wetherspoons in Weston-super-Mare this week had 75 members of staff forced to stay at home after coming into contact with positive cases, while Hawksmoor steakhouse in London received 25 test and trace notifications within four weeks of reopening. 

Small businesses are particularly struggling under the deluge of app notifications, with one restaurant in Liverpool revealing it lost a quarter of its workforce over the weekend on top of an existing labour shortage caused by Brexit and employees quitting over lockdown.

The nature of the NHS Covid app – which tells people to self-isolate if they have been in ‘close contact’ with someone who later tests positive – means hospitality staff walking around busy venues are particularly likely to receive notifications. 

Close contact means being within two metres of a person who tested positive for the virus for 15 minutes or more or within one metre for one minute or more. 

Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin

The Cabot Court Hotel, a Wetherspoon pub in Weston-super-Mare, saw 75 staff forced to self-isolate for 10 days last week after four of their colleagues tested positive

The Cabot Court Hotel, a Wetherspoon pub in Weston-super-Mare, saw 75 staff forced to self-isolate for 10 days last week after four of their colleagues tested positive. Pictured on the left is Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin 

Chef Gary Usher has had to close his Manchester restaurant Kala twice because of staff being pinged by the Covid app

 Chef Gary Usher has had to close his Manchester restaurant Kala twice because of staff being pinged by the Covid app

Dave Critchley, executive chef and director at Lu Ban restaurant and bar in Liverpool, told MailOnline: ‘We lost five people over the weekend at minimal notice after they were pinged by the app.

‘When you are only a small business anyway losing five members of staff meant we had lost a quarter of our workforce.

‘It was already a monumental task to take on this year to make up all the money we lost from last year because we’ve still got last year’s rent and bills to pay.

‘And this is at a time when staff problems are the worst they’ve ever been because of Brexit and people going into different jobs during lockdown.’

Industry body UKHospitality is urging the government to change the rules so staff can return to work after a negative tests.

The rules currently require a period of 10 days self-isolation after the day of coming into contact with the positive case – regardless of whether they then test negative.

Dave Critchley, executive chef and director at Lu Ban restaurant and bar in Liverpool, told MailOnline: 'We lost five people over the weekend at minimal notice after they were pinged by the app'

Dave Critchley, executive chef and director at Lu Ban restaurant and bar in Liverpool, told MailOnline: ‘We lost five people over the weekend at minimal notice after they were pinged by the app’

Admiral Taverns CEO Chris Jowsey suggested hospitality had been 'unfairly targeted' throughout the pandemic

Graham Harris, chief financial officer at the East London Pub Co, said the issue was 'limiting' his businesses' ability to recover

Admiral Taverns CEO Chris Jowsey (left) suggested hospitality had been ‘unfairly targeted’ throughout the pandemic. Graham Harris, (right) chief financial officer at the East London Pub Co, said staff repeatedly being put into self-isolation was ‘limiting’ his businesses’ ability to recover

The steakhouse and cocktail bar Hawksmoor has received 25 test and trace notifications within four weeks of reopening. Staff are testing three times a week and only one has reported a positive result

The steakhouse and cocktail bar Hawksmoor has received 25 test and trace notifications within four weeks of reopening. Staff are testing three times a week and only one has reported a positive result

The nature of the NHS Covid app - which tells people to self-isolate if they have come within a certain distance of someone who later tests positive - means hospitality staff walking around busy venues are particularly likely to receive notifications

The nature of the NHS Covid app – which tells people to self-isolate if they have come within a certain distance of someone who later tests positive – means hospitality staff walking around busy venues are particularly likely to receive notifications

Mr Critchley backed the calls, adding: ‘We are seeing 45,000 people in stadiums with no mask and no social distancing and all they’ve had to do is take a test in the morning, so why can’t my staff do that.

‘We are testing our staff every day with a lateral flow test and temperature checks. So why can’t our staff still go into work if they’ve had a negative test?’

The Cabot Court Hotel, a Wetherspoon pub in Weston-super-Mare, saw 75 staff forced to self-isolate for 10 days last week after four of their colleagues tested positive.

Mark Derry, who sits on the board of several restaurant businesses including New World Trading Company in Cheshire, which has lost 35 days of trading from four of its 29 venues because of staff self-isolating.

‘It’s complete chaos,’ he told the Financial Times.

Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor, said the steakhouse and cocktail bar has received 25 test and trace notifications within four weeks of reopening. 

Staff are testing three times a week and only one has reported a positive result.

Meanwhile, chef Gary Usher has had to close his Manchester restaurant Kala twice because of staff being pinged by the Covid app.

It will now stay shut until ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19. ‘Reopening and closing the restaurants costs so much money, energy and time, and we are just not able to do this again,’ his restaurant group, Elite Bistros, said.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, said the situation was ‘a nightmare’ for firms, particularly given many are already suffering a staffing shortage.

Her group is leading calls for a ‘test and release’ scheme which would see staff who were self-isolating could return to work if they had a negative test result.

The NHS Covid app has previously been criticised for glitches, including sending out phantom exposure alerts, causing unnecessary alarm and periods of self-isolation for users.

How jabs have tamed the third wave: Just one in 100 NHS beds now taken up by Covid patients in England compared to one in six at start of second surge in December 

By Joe Davies for MailOnline  

Just one in 100 NHS beds were being taken up by Covid patients in England last week — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave, according to official figures that highlight the power of the vaccines. 

MailOnline analysis of the latest NHS England figures show that out of the roughly 87,000 hospital beds at the health service’s disposal, fewer than 1,000 were being taken up by people suffering from coronavirus (1.1 per cent) on June 22.

The low inpatient numbers are made more impressive by the fact average daily infections have risen to more than 20,000 due to an outbreak of the ultra-infectious Indian variant.

Professor Chris Whitty told a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday that hospitals will be able to cope fine after Freedom Day because of the protective ring the jabs have thrown around the population. 

The last time Britain was recording more than 20,000 daily cases and the outbreak was rising was in the second week of December, at the cusp of the second wave. 

Daily Covid hospitalisations (green) are starting to creep up as a result of the Indian variant outbreak but the speed at which they are rising week-on-week has already started to slow (red line)

Daily Covid hospitalisations (green) are starting to creep up as a result of the Indian variant outbreak but the speed at which they are rising week-on-week has already started to slow (red line)

At that time one in six hospital beds across the health service in England (15 per cent) were being used by people struggling with the virus. 

Now, even the worst hit region — the North West — is only seeing 2.4 per cent of its beds full with Covid patients. Covid occupancy is lowest in the South West, where fewer than one in 220 beds are occupied by people with the virus. 

Britain’s positive test rate is also much lower than in the winter wave — down from five per cent in December to just two per cent now. 

The encouraging data comes as England’s normally-cautious chief medical officer threw his weight behind ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19 by saying the NHS can cope with the expected rise in admissions.

Professor Whitty warned prolonging curbs would lead to a worse peak in winter and encouraged ministers to push ahead with plans to ease restrictions next month. 

Speaking at a cabinet briefing yesterday, Professor Whitty said the data suggested Britain is on course to be able to lift lockdown measures in line with current plans.

The cautious expert, who has backed restrictions throughout the pandemic, said the current surge in infections was not causing a rise in hospitalisations, in a sign of the vaccine effect. 

 

Allowing the virus to spread more easily now would cause less severe disease because people spend less time indoors and their immunity provided by recent vaccination is greater. 

Professor Whitty’s comments came as Boris Johnson told cabinet Britain would have to learn to live with Covid in the same way as flu.

The Prime Minister highlighted that the link between infections and serious illness and deaths had been significantly weakened.

MailOnline’s analysis of official data shows the clear impact of the vaccines on keeping people out of hospital for extended periods of time. 

On June 22 — the latest date regional data is available for — even the North West, which has the highest Covid bed occupancy in England, only one in 42 beds were occupied by Covid patients. 

Just 307 of 12,932 beds are occupied by Covid patients — 2.37 per cent. It is followed by London (1.61 per cent), the North East and Yorkshire (1.03 per cent), the Midlands (0.87 per cent) and the East of England (0.58 per cent).

Covid occupancy is lowest in the South East (0.45 per cent) and South West (0.44 per cent).

In comparison, one in less than six beds (16.7 per cent) was taken up with Covid patients on December 14 in the Midlands, the worst affected region at the time.

Just one in 100 NHS beds are currently being taken up by Covid patients in England — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave. Graph shows: The percentage of all hospital beds available to the NHS being taken up by Covid patients on June 22 this year (red bars) compared to on December 14 (blue bars), the last time infections were above 20,000 and rising

Just one in 100 NHS beds are currently being taken up by Covid patients in England — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave. Graph shows: The percentage of all hospital beds available to the NHS being taken up by Covid patients on June 22 this year (red bars) compared to on December 14 (blue bars), the last time infections were above 20,000 and rising

It was followed by the North West (16.3 per cent), South East (15.1 per cent), North East and Yorkshire (15.0 per cent), East of England (13.5 per cent), London (13.3 per cent) and South West (10.0 per cent).

Yesterday, cases surged above 20,000 for the second day in a row — after Monday’s figure marked a five-month high — but deaths dropped again by 14.8 per cent.

Speaking after the briefing yesterday, a cabinet source told The Times the data was ‘very encouraging’ and Professor Whitty seemed ‘cautiously optimistic’.

They said: ‘The view among the scientists was that we should get as much open this summer as possible before winter, which will be much more difficult.’ 

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