‘Pingdemic’ chaos is spreading across Britain today with more businesses and services announcing closures and delays due to the growing number of staff being told to self-isolate.
Shakespeare’s Globe has become the latest victim today, with bosses having to cancel a showing because of isolation rules.
It comes as the top boss of Marks and Spencer last night warned that store hours may have to be cut due to the number of employees in isolation.
Some National Trust sites announced they would have to shut-up shop today due to a lack of staff, while mechanics warned of an MOT backlog due to the number of garage workers facing quarantines.
Schools are also facing tough decisions on whether to move classes online close early for the summer due to rising numbers of teachers and staff in isolation.
Today Shakespeare’s Globe cancelled a matinee performance of the Tempest ‘due to Covid-19 isolation requirements’.
In statement released through social media, bosses at the famous London theatre said: ‘Unfortunately, despite very robust procedures, today’s matinee performance of the Tempest has been cancelled.
‘One of our acting company is unable to perform this afternoon due to Covid-19 isolation requirements.’
Shakespeare’s Globe has today become the latest victim of the ‘pingdemic’ with bosses having to cancel one of its shows because of isolation rules
Bosses at the famous London theatre say they will no longer be able to put on today’s matinee performances of the Tempest ‘due to Covid-19 isolation requirements’
Around 1.8million people were asked to self-isolate last week in England, data suggests. That includes 194,000 people who tested positive, 520,000 who were ‘pinged’ by the app, almost 340,000 who were contacted directly by Test and Trace, and 750,000 schoolchildren
Up to 1million people were asked to self-isolate last week, data suggests. But that figure could hit 5.6million by the end of the month, if cases spiral by 75 per cent every week (right), according to MailOnline analysis. Separate projections based on a growth rate of 40 per cent – similar to what Test and Trace reported last week – still says the number of people self-isolating could hit 3million a week. But the true figure will be much lower because many people who are told to self-isolate end up testing positive, and some people will be flagged down by both NHS Test and Trace and the app
Today, services on Northern trains are being disrupted. Customers are being advised not to travel between Sheffield and Leeds via Moorthorpe, between Leeds and Doncaster, from Sheffield to Lincoln and between Sheffield and York because of delays.
They are also warning passengers of busier than usual services on coastal routes as Britons flock to the beach today with temperatures set to soar.
In an alert issued today: ‘A number of front-line staff have either tested positive for COVID or having to self-isolate.
‘Due to this, there will be a number of alterations on some Northern routes today.
‘In addition, Northern are also expecting busier services at popular leisure spots and routes out to the coast.
‘Where possible, please try not to rely on the last service of the day.’
There are also reduced Transport of Wales services in the Cardiff area today due to a ‘shortage of train drivers’ – though the alert does not specifically say this is due to Covid isolation.
Meanwhile, more pubs are having to close due to a lack of staff. It comes as restrictions are set to be lifted tomorrow in what has been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ in England.
One pub owner, Steve Lomas, who runs Suffolk-based pub chain Deben Inns, took to Twitter to share his frustration.
He said: ‘Nine staff pinged, nine negative tests over five days and there still unable to come out of isolation. Business closed.
‘Surely this is preposterous and is certainly unsustainable?’
Meanwhile, in Kendal, a market town on the edge of the Lake District, a pub has been forced to shut after weeks of battling to stay open in the face of staff shortages.
Bosses of The Duke and of Cumberland announced on their Facebook page last night: ‘We have got a number of staff off or self isolating and we’ve been trying to keep going over the last couple of weeks on reduced staffing levels.
‘Unfortunately two more staff have had to go off today so we will have to close for a few days until the full team is back.
‘We don’t want to let anybody down so have tried to stay open but at the same time we are struggling with only a few staff and we don’t want to give you a bad experience or long waits when you visit.’
O’Neills in Reading, meanwhile, has now closed following a Covid-19 outbreak.
The pub had a sign on its front door, which reads: ‘Unfortunately, following the return of positive Covid-19 tests within the team, and being instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, we are closing the pub for a short time as a precautionary measure.’
It adds: ‘We’re sorry for any disappointment this may cause, but we’d like to thank our guests and our team for their support shown and we look forward to welcoming you back soon.’
Also in Reading, residents were told this on Friday that they will not have their garden waste collected for at least the next two weeks after several staff from the council’s waste team were forced to self-isolate.
Meanwhile, a salon in West Yorkshire announced it was having to close due to an outbreak. Empire Hair salon, near Halifax, said on Facebook: ‘ It’s took me a day to write this but I have had to close the doors for now at Empire.
‘We have one staff member isolating, one showing symptoms and awaiting results.
‘I felt for the safety of all our clients, and our staff I have decided to close our doors until we all have our tests results back, obviously hoping we won’t have to self isolate.’
Today the National Trust announced that one of its sites is having to close due to staff shortages caused by isolation.
Announcing a temporary close of Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire, the trust said: ‘Due partly to some staff self-isolating and awaiting results, mean the house will be temporarily closed on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 July.
‘The garden, woodland and tea room will remain open for visitors to enjoy. Thank you for your support.’
Today teaching unions warned schools faced having to close early for the summer holidays due to a teacher shortage.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said headteachers faced a ‘grim situation’ in deciding whether to close up a week early because of the number of staff in isolation.
He told the Observer: ‘It is an absolutely grim situation and a depressing end to an academic year in which schools and colleges have been fighting to keep education running for their students despite waves of disruption caused by the pandemic.
‘Schools are remaining open until the end of term where possible but we are hearing more reports of some having to close because of Covid-related cases and absence among pupils and staff.’
It comes as Royal Mail warned earlier this week of postal delays in the Peterborough earlier this week due to staff having to self-isolate.
A Royal Mail spokesperson told the Peterborough Telegraph: ‘A number of colleagues are self-isolating at the Orton Southgate Delivery Office following a positive case of COVID-19. We wish our colleague a speedy recovery.
‘This temporary impact on staffing levels may result in some disruption to services and we apologise to any impacted customers in advance. We are working hard to restore normal service levels as quickly as possible.’
There is also now concern about delays to MOT services due to garage staff having to self-isolate due to the NHS Covid-19 app.
Jonathan Barbera, founder of Parkers MOT said concerns over staff catching the illness was now the ‘biggest problem’ facing garages.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: ‘It’s the biggest problem we’ve got so far. We’ve really tightened everything at work to try and avoid this.
‘The problem is if one of them gets pinged then everyone else who they have come into contact with will also need to go into isolation.’
It comes as yesterday a London Tube line had to be suspended and two others partially closed due to a staff shortage triggered by workers being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.
The Metropolitan line is suspended for rest of Saturday while the District and Piccadilly lines are partially closed until 9pm
The mass disruption tot the Tube network came after control room staff were alerted by the NHS Covid app on Saturday morning
The Metropolitan Line was not running yesterday after control room staff received an alert from the app this morning telling them to stay at home.
Services on the Piccadilly and District line were also affected, with partial closures to last until at least 9pm yesterday.
It comes as industry bosses are warning that Britain faces food shortages with shops being closed early and bins not emptied for ten weeks if urgent action is not taken to address the so-called ‘pingdemic’.
Richard Jones, London Underground’s head of network operations, said: ‘Due to a shortage of control room staff who are having to self-isolate following notification this morning via the Test and Trace app, there will be no service on the Metropolitan line for the rest of the day.
‘This will also impact the Piccadilly line with no service between South Harrow and Uxbridge and no service on the District line between High Street Kensington and Edgware.
‘Services are expected to resume on the Piccadilly and District lines at 9pm this evening.
‘We apologise to customers for the disruption. London Underground tickets will be accepted on local bus services.’
The suspension to Tube services comes after warnings to the Government over a ‘surge’ in workers and medics being forced into self-isolation over coronavirus contacts when most restrictions end in England on Monday.
Transport unions have said there will be ‘dire consequences’ next week when staff are ‘pinged’ as the level of infections rise.
It comes after Transport for London (TfL) had to scramble to find cover on the day of the Euro 2020 final, after a staff shortage due to workers being ‘pinged’ risked the Bakerloo line having to be suspended an hour before kick-off.
Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch previously warned that Monday ‘will see a surge in workers pinged with a self-isolation instruction next week’.
‘Even at this late stage, the Government, the train operators and the bus companies should issue a clear, legally backed instruction that levels up the rest of the UK to the safety standards that will remain in force in Wales and Scotland,’ he said.
Elsewhere in the country, passengers were warned of alterations on some Northern routes this weekend due to a number of front-line staff either testing positive for Covid-19 or having to self-isolate.
According to the National Rail Enquiries website, trains may be cancelled in both directions on services connecting Huddersfield, Sheffield and Lincoln, Sheffield with Leeds, Retford and York and between Leeds and Doncaster.
Meanwhile, West Midlands Trains warned yesterday that the number of staff having to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app had ‘quadrupled’ in recent weeks, leading to ‘trains being cancelled at short notice and fewer carriages being available on some services’.
The Metropolitan Line suspension in London today came as Wembley Stadium, near to Wembley Park station on the north-west section of the line, prepared to host thousands of fans for the rugby league Challenge Cup final at 3pm.
The station is also serviced by the Jubilee line which was still running, while Wembley Stadium and Wembley Central stations are also near the ground.
It follows estimates which suggest the UK economy is expected to be hit by £4billion in losses after it reopens fully on Monday’s ‘Freedom Day’ because workers are being forced to stay at home after being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app.
Marks and Spencer said it will be forced to reduce its opening hours and because of the sheer number of staff told to remain at home after coming into contact with an infected person.
Staff shortages at ports and in the meat industry mean supermarket shelves could be left empty, with supply chains badly affected
The number of alerts sent out in relation to venues also more than doubled in seven days
And Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, today claimed the app needs to be changed, adding that a quarter of junior doctors are currently in isolation.
Ministers have said the lifting of restrictions on Monday is likely to push daily infections to more than 100,000, which could force around half a million a day to self-isolate.
Analysis by MailOnline suggests that in a worst-case scenario around six million adults could be in isolation by the end of the month.
Britain’s daily infection toll breached 50,000 yesterday for the first time since January. Anyone who tests positive is told to self-isolate and has their contacts traced.
But because the Bluetooth phone app ‘pings’ all those who have been in close contact with positive cases, the number of people self-isolating at home at any one time is far higher.
Unlike those people contacted by phone, it is not a legal requirement to self-isolate after being pinged by the app. But Downing Street today made it clear it expects people to do so.
It raises the prospect of the economy grinding to a halt due to a chronic lack of available workers, even after the lockdown is supposed to have ended .
Business leaders and trade unionists from across all sector of the economy lined up to warn the Government that a major rethink is needed, because the current situation is not sustainable.
A fifth of all private sector workers are currently having to self-isolate, according to industrial analysis.