A recent survey by Hospitality Ulster has revealed the staggering figures that, of the hospitality venues in Northern Ireland that took part in the survey, 23% of them have had to close completely due to staff shortages brought on by the Covid -19 self-isolation rules.
Too Many Staff Getting Notified
Too many staff members at some venues are getting a notification to go into self-isolation by the StopCOVID NI app, leading to the owners having no other alternative but to temporarily shut their doors, as they cannot function effectively with so many key workers absent.
The survey also revealed that 59% of the venues surveyed have had to close completely or reduce the services they are providing to their clientele. A situation that cannot be sustainable for any length of time we would suggest.
Current Isolation Policy Is Simply Unsustainable
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, is quoted in the Belfast Telegraph talking about this survey. He said:
“It is clear that the current isolation policy is painting an extremely worrying picture of the viability of the hospitality sector caused by staff shortages due to them isolating after close contact with someone testing positive.
“It is simply unsustainable, with nearly three-quarters of hospitality businesses that responded reporting staff shortages due to isolating and a quarter stating that they have had to close completely.
“We call on the Executive to review and revise the isolation policy immediately to a ‘test to remain at work’ process as the current situation is having a massive negative impact on hundreds of business across Northern Ireland.
“Having to close with no financial support in place due to this problem is presenting huge difficulties and a great deal of worry and stress for owners and staff.
“It is getting to a situation where shutters are being pulled down, staff are forced out of work, and no trade at all is taking place.”
This Issue Is Hugely Important To The Hospitality Sector
We have visited the issue of staff members having to self-isolate before as we believe it is an issue of huge importance to the hospitality sector. Changing the rules to having a test to see if you are negative so you can remain at work, rather than this blanket self-isolation rule for everyone, is surely a safe and sensible way to go now that we have so many adults vaccinated in the country. Let us hope that something is done sooner rather than later.