Daily Mail article on the 'Pingdemic'

ended 16. July 2021

A journalist at the Mail Online is writing a piece on the ‘pingdemic’ today, which is causing major staffing problems for small businesses.

He's after small business or charity owners who are prepared to criticise the Test and Trace app for making them shut up shop because too many staff are off. 

Equally, he wants to know if any of you are telling your staff to ignore the app and come into work (which is perfectly legal, because it’s not a legal requirement to self-isolate when pinged)?

Deadline is tight as this is likely to go live this afternoon!

6 responses from the Newspage community

Star Quote
"The pingdemic is causing us a real headache. Our fundraising income has been decimated and we are just starting to see some opportunities to begin to bring in the money we need to keep our support going, and guess what? The pings are going bonkers! "This week we are attending the Great Yorkshire Show over four days. We lost half of our planned staff and volunteer cover due to self-isolation even though they were testing daily and were showing no signs of symptoms. I have had to move work and resources around, close our charity shop and try to cover the best way possible. It is costing the charity additional time and money that we can ill afford. "I will always support and encourage my team to follow the advice, but have to admit the app has been deleted from my phone."
Star Quote
"Not legalising the isolation requirements from the Test & Trace app shows that the Government doesn't trust its own technology and systems, so why should we, as small business owners? "We have stores that have closed, meaning lost revenue, and others on a permanent knife edge. You're only one ping away from a whole world of financial pain. Despite this, and as much as I might personally want to, we don't advise our staff to ignore the app, as we have a duty of care and responsibility as a brand to follow the guidance. "We see evidence that more staff are making their own decision to remove the app or turn off contract tracing altogether. As a result, the Government are losing or have already lost the trust of the public."
"I have been lucky so far and have not been pinged, but if I am, and have to cancel people's appointments, I fear I could lose customers. "Something that really worries me is that it seems supermarkets do not require people to scan the app barcode, yet I have to get my customers to scan one. Supermarkets have hundreds of customers in the building at the same time, I have one customer at a time. Can you imagine how many of us would then be getting pings if you were made to scan a Supermarket test & trace barcode. The whole country would grind to a halt."
"The track and trace system is woefully inadequate and for many small businesses, especially those in the hospitality, events and retail sectors, it is crippling. "I have clients in these sectors and some could have more than 75% of their staff off at a time that when they need to be pulling out all the stops and starting to recover financially from this pandemic. "I have been asked advice on what to do from many clients and my advice is still the same - use common sense - talk to your teams and get them to make the decision on whether to trust the app. Put in extra H&S measures yourself like doing a LFT prior to any shift. "From working in hospitality for 15 years the passion from those that work in the industry is starting to get frazzled - they have been on furlough for months, now they get pinged to say the can't work and furlough payments have dropped."
"The Test & Trace App has been a disaster pretty much from the start, and the Government not legislating that isolation is necessary if pinged does show a lack of faith from the Government in its own app, which has cost however many millions to create. "We don't ever advise our team to ignore the app if pinged; as easy as it may be, I feel we have a responsibility to ensure we follow the guidance so we can all return to some normality as soon as possible. There's no doubt that trust from the public is paper thin currently."
I urge the government to provide urgent and clear guidance to businesses in the UK regarding furlough and self isolation rules for employees returning back to work from furlough after 19 July 2021. We will see widespread return to workplaces, particularly in those sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 restrictions. Many of these employees when they return back to work from furlough will then be ‘pinged’ from the NHS COVID-19 App and the wide-reaching self-isolation rules during a month of misery that won’t end until 16 August at the earliest. The natural and obvious inclination from employers at this point would be to return affected employees back to the furlough. But the government themselves features confusing and conflicting guidance on whether this is allowed within the scope of the CJRS. Ultimately this means any employers moving individuals back to furlough at this point face a potential misuse of the furlough rules and the possibility of a financially crippling HMRC investigation that many businesses simply wouldn’t be able to survive. If affected individuals are being told to go home and isolate, then they will have to isolate up to 10 days with just statutory sick pay - which is nearly 75% less than the National Minimum Wage for workers aged 23 and over**. This discrepancy will clearly and disproportionately affect hard working, low income families the most. It is clear that furlough is going to be something employees will be pressing their employers for too, further cementing the immediacy and urgency of the situation. Many workplaces and offices have been effectively closed owing to COVID restrictions and furlough. Unless there is urgent intervention from the government, millions of workers will be isolating between now and 16 August. These are workplaces that are able to do daily testing and be under supervision of test and trace, which in itself would reduce the risk for employers who are in a state of uncertainty and confusion of how to balance the health risk to their employee and the financial risk to their businesses. *Based on NHS Test and Trace information to week ending 30 June 2021. ** Based on average 40 hour week at National Minimum Wage (£8.91 for those aged 23 years and over). £356.40. Statutory Sick Pay is £96.35 per week.