In Britain, pandemic-induced absences related to COVID-19 have caused a shortage of labour to critical levels. Some of the British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA) members have heard that between 5% and 10% of their workforce were ‘pinged’ by the app and asked to self-isolate.
That is in addition to the underlying critical worker shortage. Discounting the impact of the pandemic, some plants had reported vacancies of 10% to 16% of permanent positions.
BMPA CEO Nick Allen said that the shortage of workers affected the meat products that require more labour to produce. This means those lines would be the first to go.
On July 19th, car plants, railways, supermarkets and pubs in England cautioned its government about the COVID-19 tracing app. The number of workers that the app told to isolate has reached hundreds of thousands. It was impacting the country’s recovery and pushing supply chains to the edge of falling.
Virus case numbers in England are rising, and so are self-isolation notifications from the NHS COVID-19 app. This has caused the so-called ‘pingdemic’ that led Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary to delete the test and trace app to avoid self-isolation notices.
However, 10.4 million people downloaded NHS App. It has become the de facto digital passport to freedom. Before the pandemic, users used it to book GP appointments and access medical records. This app contains evidence of a person’s vaccination status, called the NHS COVID Pass. It was being loaded onto many people’s home screens.
Anyone who is in a contacts list of someone with the virus receives a notification from the app, telling them to self-isolate for 10 days. This has also disrupted schools and the healthcare system.
The Pingdemic and The Labour Force
The so-called “pingdemic” is weighing on retailers’ workforce. For instance, Iceland Foods said that the app had pinged some 3% of its total staff to self-isolate. The absence of over 1000 workers forced the company to reduce trading hours. It even had to shut a few of its stores.
The director of food & sustainability at industry lobby group, the British Retail Consortium, Andrew Opie, said that retail workers and suppliers, who have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, should be allowed to work. However, they would need double vaccination or show a negative COVID test. This is to ensure there is no disruption to the public’s ability to get food and other goods.