A decision not to relax self-isolation rules until August 16 could lead to serious staff shortages this summer, industry groups have warned.
From next month, people with a double bite in England will no longer have to self-isolate if close contact is positive.
But with the increase in cases and the end of most Covid rules on July 19, there are fears that millions of people may still be forced to take time off work this summer.
UK Hospitality said self-isolation was already causing “carnage” to businesses.
At present, close contacts of people who test positive for Covid must self-isolate for up to 10 days.
But UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls said testing could replace isolation for people who have come into contact with a Covid patient.
“We understand the need for caution and effective control of transmission”, she wrote on twitter Wednesday.
“What we are asking for is a pragmatic adjustment to avoid disadvantageous young workers – the international travel release test will reduce disruption without reducing protection.”
The Orchard Tea Gardens in Grantchester, near Cambridge, had to close this week after several staff members were contacted by the NHS Test and Trace app.
Owner Charles Bunker said sales were already down 30% this summer, while ingredient prices and staff salaries rose sharply. The cafe was now facing a “perfect storm” due to the impact of testing and traceability.
“The reality is that most of these people aren’t sick, they’ve just been in contact with someone who had to self-isolate,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Wake up to Money.
“We need a system now in which people can test, and immediately they turn out not to have Covid, they can go back to work.
“August 16 will mark two thirds of our summer and hospitality depends on a good summer.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday he expected cases to “increase dramatically” as restrictions are relaxed and they could reach 100,000 a day.
According to Guardian newspaper analysis, it could lead up to two million people to isolate themselves this summer.
But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted the government must strike a balance between reopening the economy and limiting the spread of Covid-19.
“On the one hand we are told that the restrictions are too heavy, and on the other hand we are told that we are too loose in terms of lifting those restrictions. And that is balance, that is nature. judgmental politics, ”he told Sky News.
Cumbria’s climbing center The Wall has only three employees and if they were all to self-isolate at the same time, the business would have to shut down, manager Joe Holden said.
All the employees are under 25 and none have had the jab, which is “obviously very difficult” for the company, he added.
“Getting enough people through the door is hard enough, let alone the rules that change every few weeks,” he told the BBC.
“We will have to hire more staff as an emergency option [in case we’re forced to isolate] but training more people increases the workload and costs for us. “
Another area potentially threatened by an increase in self-isolation is beauty. Most companies in the sector are small and employ few people. They also rely heavily on young workers.
Lesley Blair, boss of industry group Babtac, said the self-isolation was “incredibly disruptive” and urged the government to prioritize industry staff for second vaccinations by August 16.
“Alternatively, ideally, the rules could be changed, under certain conditions, such as daily testing, to allow businesses to stay open and staff to work as long as they are negative every day.”
However, Amanda Falls, owner of KH Hair Group in the East Midlands, said she “welcomes” the relaxation of self-isolation rules from August.
Of the 26 staff at its two salons, 20 have suffered a double blow and those who don’t are under 20 years old. A fully vaccinated staff member had to self-isolate recently, costing him around £ 2,000 in lost income.
“Businesses can’t go on like this – if I was tracked and traced I’d be furious because I’m doubly stung,” she said.
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