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Gloucestershire Business News

Hospitality businesses in Gloucestershire face closure over self-isolation rules

Hospitality businesses in Gloucestershire may have to reduce opening hours or even close temporarily because of the knock-on effect of Covid-19 self-isolation rules.

Steve Gardner-Collins, chairman of Visit Gloucestershire, said: "Hospitality businesses across Gloucestershire are facing a wave of colleagues having to self-isolate, putting even more pressure on visitor experience and them being able to operate.

"Colleagues across the county are tackling a double threat of not being able to recruit staff, having had weeks of re-opening and suffering from recruitment challenges and at the same time now having to juggle teams, or bubbles, who have to isolate, either because of outbreak in schools affecting families or generally people testing positive.

"Hospitality owners are facing tough decisions on reducing services even further or the prospects of having to temporarily close."

His comments follow a Business Select committee hearing yesterday were told in some cases up to a third of staff in the sector could be hit by self-isolation rules as the situation worsens.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, gave the stark warning when she spoke to MPs at the committee.

One in five workers in the hospitality and retail sectors are currently off work, MPs were told, but UK Hospitality fears this could get even worse.

The comments highlight growing concerns at the number of people being alerted to stay at home after being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Ms Nicholls said the hospitality sector was already facing a shortage of 200,000 workers, with roles unfilled after some switched to other careers when restaurants, pubs and hotels were closed during lockdowns.

As reported by Sky News, she told MPs: "We have one in five hospitality staff in isolation, and we have particular concerns as around 60% of our staff are under 30.

"The changes to allow double-vaccinated people to avoid isolation won't kick in in a material way until September because the workforce won't have been able to have their second jabs until then.

"We believe we need to have a test-to-release policy to help them work.

"For many of our small businesses, if you lose one or two of your workers you don't have enough people to open at all, and obviously that has huge ramifications."

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said there was a similar problem in shops.

She told MPs: "We are seeing some vacancy rates of around 20%.

"And only some of that is directly people with COVID - a lot is the indirect consequence of having to isolate, irrespective of tests or whether one has had two vaccines.

"I think it is an immediate issue that comes with the lifting of restrictions."

Earlier there was news of long delays at Heathrow airport as security staff were forced to self-isolate under similar circumstances.

And government figures show pupil absence from schools has now hit a record high because of contact tracing rules with more than 830,000 out of school last week.

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