‘Another pingdemic could cost us £2bn’: Industry leaders fear new Covid isolation rules could spark staffing crisis in the run-up to Christmas 

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  • Industry leaders warn Quasi Quarteng ‘Pingdemic’ could cost Britain £2bn a month
  • Close contacts of people with new covid strain will be isolated at home for ten days from today
  • Bosses fear it will cause staff panic across Britain before Christmas

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New self-isolation rules to tackle the Omicron version could trigger a second pandemic and cost Britain £2bn a month, ministers were warned yesterday.

Starting today, close contacts of anyone who catches the new Covid strain will be required to isolate at home for ten days.

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Industry leaders warned Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng that the rules could lead to a harmful pandemic before Christmas.

The first one caused chaos for firms, schools and individuals over the summer, forcing millions to isolate at home.

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Pingdemic refers to notifications from the NHS COVID app asking individuals to self-isolate.

Starting today, close contacts of anyone who catches the new COVID strain will have to isolate at home for ten days (stock image)

In August the rules were removed for those who were fully vaccinated.

Boris Johnson announced over the weekend that self-isolation would be rolled back as part of measures designed to slow the spread of the Omicron version.

Even fully vaccinated people will now be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as having close contact with someone who tests positive for Omicron.

The Institute for Economic Affairs think-tank warned that a change in rules could cost the economy £2 billion if large numbers of workers are forced to isolate for Christmas.

There are also fears that the return of self-isolation could lead to a repeat of the chaos seen in schools last year, when entire classes were told to stay at home.

It was also claimed that the new rules are unlikely to stop the spread of the infection.

Industry leaders warned Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng that the rules could lead to a harmful pandemic before Christmas (file image)

Industry leaders warned Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng that the rules could lead to a harmful pandemic before Christmas (file image)

Currently, only 20 per cent of positive COVID samples are being fully sequenced, which means that a large number of new cases go undetected.

It can also take days for cases to be fully sequenced – which means people may be contacted too late.

IEA’s Julian Jessop said: ‘The main short-term risk to the economy comes from tightening self-isolation rules, which could trigger another pandemic.

‘The effect of repetition may be greater now, as rules are being tightened in the school period and when labor shortage is a major problem. The new self-isolation rules could cut GDP by up to 1 per cent in December, causing the economy to lose at least £2bn.

Stephen Phipson, head of Make UK, a group of manufacturers, told the Financial Times that there was a risk that self-isolation rules would exacerbate the ‘already tough’. [staffing] status’, adding: ‘We do not want to go back to the pandemic.’

Downing Street insisted the new rules were proportionate, but acknowledged they would be a challenge for some firms and individuals.

Currently, only 20 per cent of positive COVID samples are being fully sequenced, which means the new variant is likely to leave a large number of cases undetected (file image)

Currently, only 20 per cent of positive COVID samples are being fully sequenced, which means the new variant is likely to leave a large number of cases undetected (file image)

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