Hospitality businesses hit by staff shortages during 'pingdemic' welcome rule change

Hospitality businesses in Yorkshire which have been struggling with staff shortages in recent months have welcomed changes to the Government’s rules on self isolation.

Hospitality businesses have been forced to turn away bookings or close temporarily over the summer because many of their employees have been told to isolate

Pubs, restaurants and other businesses claim they have been forced to turn away bookings or close temporarily over the summer because many of their employees have been told to isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

But from today, people who are fully vaccinated and under 18s are no longer legally required to spend 10 days in quarantine if they come into close contact with a positive case.

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The Government says they should take a PCR test as soon as possible but do not need to isolate while they wait for the results.

From today, people who are fully vaccinated and under 18s are no longer legally required to spend 10 days in quarantine if they come into close contact with a positive case.

James MacKenzie, owner of the Michelin-starred Pipe & Glass in Beverley, had to close the restaurant for 11 days last month after 10 members of staff were told to self isolate.

But he believes the rule change will ease the staff shortage which has been affecting Yorkshire’s hospitality industry.

“It’s going to help massively, we think. We're still operating very cautiously and realise there's still a pandemic out there,” he said.

“But like any hospitality business, we have a certain number of younger employees who have only had one jab, so they will still have to self isolate.”

Helen Haraty, owner of Grays Court Hotel & Restaurant, said she is “cautiously optimistic” about the rule change but she also has a number of younger employees who are not fully vaccinated.

Last month, her business lost out on around half its weekly revenue when it was unable to serve lunch or dinner because six members of staff were told to isolate, despite testing negative for Covid-19.

“We've managed to take on quite a few more people recently, so we’re fully staffed now and we've been able to fill the gaps,” she said.

“If anybody in a leadership role went down then we’d certainly be in trouble, but they're all older and double jabbed, so hopefully we'll be okay.”

James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said the new rules on self isolation will benefit businesses which have endured “tough challenges” throughout the pandemic.

He added: “With more and more people receiving the vaccine and the subsequent relaxation of the self-isolation rules, this should now enable businesses to expand their teams, easing the short-staffed situation many tourism locations have been experiencing, which in some cases has also resulted in reservation cancellations and short-term venue closures.

“We’re now seeing encouraging examples of hospitality and entertainment venues actively advertising for staff and offering opportunities to many.

“The sudden surge in tourism across the county, particularly during the summer months, has been a real positive as the sector rapidly reopens, recovers and rebuilds, something Welcome to Yorkshire is supporting.

“Pre-pandemic tourism was worth a staggering £9bn to the county’s economy and employed almost 225,000 people.

“With a continued demand for domestic breaks and the increased popularity of enjoying events once again across the county, it’s incredibly important to ensure all visitors and work forces alike feel safe.”

However, there are still concerns about the spread of Covid-19 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The region has the highest infection rate in the country, of 375 cases per 100,000 people, after 20,724 people tested positive for the virus over seven days.