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Bury St Edmunds-based Greene King shuts 33 pubs in the space of a week after staff 'pinged' and told to self-isolate

Pub chain Greene King has had to temporarily close some of its pubs in the last week due to the 'pingdemic' - warning the situation could get worse.

A spokesperson for the Bury St Edmunds-based brewery said today: “People having to self-isolate because of getting pinged through the app is becoming an increasing problem.

"In the last week alone we had to temporarily close 33 pubs.

Greene King Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Westley.
Greene King Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mark Westley.

"This is making it even more challenging to rebuild trade as we reopen and is very disruptive for our team members.

"Along with the rest of the hospitality industry we are calling on the government to roll out a ‘test-to-release’ scheme to impacted industries allowing people to continue working if they receive a negative lateral flow test result.”

Meanwhile, Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of the group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the situation could get worse.

Up to July 7, a total of 520,194 alerts were sent to users of the app that they had been in close contact with someone with Covid-19.

This up 46 per cent on the previous week

"It is disruptive to the business," he said.

Across the industry, we think it is about one in five of our team members who have been affected by this and therefore it is causing a real issue for us setting up business on a daily basis.

"We're having to have shortened hours in some circumstances."

The Greene King group runs 2,500 pubs, hotels and restaurants across the UK, including many across East Anglia.

It is understood none of its Suffolk pubs have been affected to date.

Mackenzie believes the app displaying such sensitivity is not sustainable in the coming months.

The UK retail lobby yesterday warned that Britain’s current self-isolation system will lead to disruption to businesses with millions set to be told to isolate in the coming weeks.

At the weekend, Marks & Spencer said it may have to reduce store opening hours if the rate of workers self-isolating continues to rise.

The number of Covid cases in England and Wales surpassed 50,000 on both Friday and Saturday, the highest number since mid-January.

Today, England lifted final Covid restrictions, including the legal requirement to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Iceland, has been forced to close 'some' shops because of shortages of staff who are being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app.

Richard Walker, boss of the supermarket, said that more than one thousand of its workers have been 'pinged' and forced to stay off work.

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