Ping! “You are in contact and you must isolate yourself immediately for ten days.” This is the message thousands of Britons have received in recent weeks, plunging many industries into turmoil. While the Covid epidemic was on the rise again across the Channel due to the Delta variant, 608,000 people received an isolation notice during the week of July 8 to 15, reports the BBC.
Result: thousands of employees can no longer go to their workplace and companies are completely taken aback. The Iceland supermarket chain has had to close some of its stores in the country, 1,000 of its employees having been forced into solitary confinement, the BBC continues to quote.
The Green King pubs have also closed their doors for the same reason. Labor shortages are hitting all sectors, causing big delays in supply chains. Many Britons have found themselves standing in front of completely empty petrol pumps and supermarket shelves, and suffering disruptions in garbage collection and public transport.
Several trains even had to be canceled and reduced schedules were introduced. According to Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers (an organization born out of the UK public health service), even ambulances and hospitals are under “Strong pressure” when many workers are missing.
According to calculations by the CEBR think tank, the “pingdemia” will cost the British economy £ 4.6 billion (€ 5.38 billion) over the four weeks until August 16, date to which the last restrictions will be lifted.
Faced with the urgency and pressure from companies, the government has exempted 10,000 supermarket employees, police, firefighters and transport personnel from isolation, who will be asked to take a simple test at the workplace.
But confusion reigns right up to the top of the state. Gerry Grimstone, the Minister of Investment, explained to an employer that workers were not subject to “No legal obligation” to follow the app’s guidelines, before Downing Street contradicted it by claiming that observing a quarantine upon receiving a message was «crucial».
In the meantime, many Britons have chosen to… remove the anti-Covid application from their phones so as not to risk isolation. One in five users would have deleted the tracking application, according to a survey.
A practice deliberately encouraged by some employers, such as the Ryanair boss who describes the application as “Big nonsense”, explaining that he was quick to deactivate it. A lesson to be pondered over in France, where “test-trace-isolate” is still a miracle method.