Dorset Chamber has joined the voices showing concern about the impact of ‘pingdemic’ on businesses and the local economy.
It has been contacted by a wave of employers struggling with staff shortages as rising numbers of workers are being forced into self-isolation after being pinged by the NHS Covid app.
The chamber is raising concerns at the highest level in Westminster through the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
Chief executive Ian Girling said: “We have serious concerns about the rapidly increasing number of businesses in Dorset being affected by employees going into quarantine.
“More and more employers are calling us about it. With the soaring number of people testing positive for Covid also a major concern, the situation could become much worse.
“Many sectors, such as hospitality, were already suffering significant staff shortages before this and I am concerned that we are seeing a resurgence of problems.”
“The government’s updated guidance that named, double-jabbed key workers in 16 sectors will be exempt from self-isolation rules is a step in the right direction.
“However, eligibility criteria for employers involves paperwork and time – and a backlog of authorisation from relevant government departments is inevitable.
“We are raising the staffing shortages issue through the BCC and I am writing to our MPs. We’ll also be seeking more ways to support Dorset businesses too, including clarification about how they may qualify for the government’s exemption scheme.
“Due to increasing infections all around us, we have re-introduced remote working for our team here at Dorset Chamber on a temporary basis.
“We cannot recommend that people switch off the app as it is critical that we contain the virus while acting in a safe and responsible way to negotiate this latest obstacle on the long road to recovery.”
The 16 sectors listed for exemptions are energy, civil nuclear, digital infrastructure, food production and supply, waste, water, veterinary medicines, essential chemicals, essential transport, medicines, medical devices, clinical consumable supplies, emergency services, border control, essential defence outputs and local government.
Latest figures show that a record 618,903 alerts were sent in the week of 8 to 15 July a 17 per cent rise on the week before.
A Dorset Chamber poll on LinkedIn showed that nearly a third of businesses to date face ‘serious’ staffing/capacity issues due to self-isolation, with a further 26 per cent citing it as an issue.
The Dorset Chamber recently held it first face-to-face networking event in 510 days with a Business Leaders lunch attended by 51 people.
Attendees were asked to respect distance and refrain from any physical contact during the event. Its next physical networking event is not until September.
Ian said: “It went very well and everyone respected our request which meant we were able to hold the event in a safe and secure way.
“We appreciate this would not be possible for many other businesses and that acting with an abundance is caution is absolutely the correct way forward.”
Visit www.dorsetchamber.co.uk for more details and for information about the Dorset Gateway business advice service, which is free for all businesses in the county.
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