But a growing number of businesses, including supermarkets and pubs, are now facing labor shortages that threaten their operations, as coronavirus infections rise and take many people away from their jobs.
One of Britain’s leading pub chains, Greene King, said it had to temporarily close 33 pubs last week due to the number of staff required to go into quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
It is currently a legal requirement in the UK isolate at home for 10 days if you test positive for the virus or if instructed by the National Testing and Traceability Service, which alerts people through an app if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. Fines are payable for breaking the rules, which are expected to be relaxed on August 16.
With new coronavirus cases approaching 50,000 a day – the highest infection rate since January – and hundreds of thousands more people being asked to isolate by the app, companies are urging the government to relax rules for people fully vaccinated much earlier than next month.
“Given the effectiveness of the current vaccine deployment program, the government should move the date of August 16 forward so that people who are fully vaccinated or who test negative are not required to quarantine themselves unnecessarily when contacted. by tracking and traceability ”she added.
Britain’s largest grocer Tesco ( was forced to drop some online deliveries on Sunday due to a shortage of truck drivers, although he told shareholders last month he had plans in place to close the deficit. The company told CNN Business on Monday that it had no plans to reduce store hours or close supermarkets. )
Rival chain Iceland Foods was not so lucky. It has already had to close some stores for the first time since the start of the pandemic because it does not have enough staff to recruit them, wrote managing director Richard Walker in the Daily Mail last week.
Walker told BBC Radio 4 on Monday that more than 1,000 employees, or 4% of its workforce, are isolating themselves due to Covid – a 50% increase over the past week and a 400% increase from a month ago. As infections increase, “it could get worse, much faster,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mark & Spencer ( CEO Steve Rowe said the retailer may also be forced to change or reduce store hours due to labor shortages. “Our Covid cases are doubling roughly every week and the level of ping [via the app] is about three to one of Covid cases, ”he told The Times on Friday. )
While retail businesses and hotels seem to be the hardest hit, the problem is creeping into other areas of the economy as well.
Auto maker Vauxhall Motors, which is owned by Stellantis, said on Monday that its Luton plant would drop from three shifts to two for the duration of this week, as a growing number of employees have been contacted by the test app and traceability.
Nissan ( is grappling with similar challenges. It has also had to adjust production “in certain areas” at Britain’s largest auto plant due to staff shortages linked to testing and traceability rules. )
“It is no exaggeration to say that factories are about to close and that at some sites, hundreds of employees are off work,” said Sunday Steve Turner, deputy general secretary of the manufacturing union Unite.
“A major engine supplier said so many people are missing and orders so far behind that work could be permanently relocated to China,” Turner added.
The British Chambers of Commerce, a business lobby group, said last week that businesses need to know if the government plans to allow people to return to work faster. “Self-isolation cases will almost certainly continue to increase by the time the change is scheduled for August 16,” Co-Executive Director Hannah Essex said in a statement.