UK businesses fear omicron will worsen staff shortages and derail recovery Business News

British companies have warned that the ‘tidal wave’ of omicron Covid cases spreading across the country will derail their recovery and exacerbate an acute labor shortage.

Boris Johnson has ordered people in England to work from home where possible in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of the new variant, with around 200,000 people now infected every day.

The latest guidelines do little to help large swathes of the economy, including manufacturing and hospitality industries who fear hundreds of thousands of workers will soon need to self-isolate.

“Manufacturers are at greater risk than other businesses because they cannot work from home,” said Verity Davidge, policy manager at the trade body Make UK. “We are concerned about the increasing number of cases which means that a large number of people will be on sick leave.

Ms Davidge welcomed a change in the rules that means close contacts of confirmed cases will be able to go to work if they continue to test negative.

While this may help prevent a recurrence of the “pingdemia” in the summer, many companies are concerned that employees will continue to work if they show symptoms, Davidge said.

Make UK calls for the reintroduction of statutory sickness benefit from the first day someone is unable to work. It currently only starts on the fourth day, potentially prompting people to go to work when they should be staying home.

“A lot of manufacturers are just starting to see order books increasing, just starting to see demand coming back, but they still have this concern about restrictions and additional bottlenecks.

“There is a huge nervousness within the industry that just as green shoots were appearing we could see those order books plummet again.”

Ms Davidge also urged the government to commit to reintroducing support, including the holiday plan or something similar, if a large number of employees are sick with omicron and the economy takes a hit.

Restaurants and pubs have warned they have already been hit hard by order cancellations and would face further problems if staff were unable to work.

A Flipdish survey of 200 restaurant companies found that 85% of those surveyed have difficulty hiring staff. If omicron causes another foreclosure, the average restaurant only has enough money to survive 10 weeks, according to the survey,

Four in 10 restaurateurs said they believe it will take between two and 10 years to fully recover from the pandemic.

“The UK government needs to understand the gravity of the situation for pubs, social clubs, brewers and cider makers,” said Nick Antona, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra)

“Prior to the announced move to Plan B restrictions in England, the industry was already facing a crisis in jobs, supply chain and cost of goods, as well as trade remaining below normal levels. before the pandemic.

“It is imperative that UK governments exercise extreme caution and understand the impact of any statements they make on the cancellation of social plans.

Restaurant owners fear that a renewed reluctance to go out will mean they will once again become more dependent on platforms such as Deliveroo and Just Eat.

Delivery apps have enjoyed windfall revenue since the start of the pandemic, but have come under fire for eating up a significant chunk of restaurant sales and profits.

“We are facing it this year,” said Rahul Sharma, director of the Regency Club of London. “Staff shortages have severely affected the business when we are open and the threat of omicron closure hangs over us as well. “

Regency recorded 194 cancellations in the three days following the first announcement of the omicron variant.

“This is why it was so important for us to protect our margin this year and one way to do it is to avoid aggregators,” he added.

Peter Backman, International Catering and Delivery Analyst, said: “Many operators, who previously avoided delivery, have added a delivery and click & collect offering during the pandemic.

“As a result, the tech giants have seen commission income rise. For restaurants, ceding up to 30% of income to middlemen is not ideal for the bottom line. “

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This notice was published: 2021-12-13 19:47:31

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