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The risk of a shortage of staff at Christmas depends on the UK’s health and hospitality

The lack of Coronavirus-related workers continues to disrupt UK businesses and government services, although the government has shortened Covid’s isolation period, employers have warned.

People with Covid in England can now eliminate isolation within seven days – three more days than ever before – if they have the test results within six to seven days. Neighbors who are not vaccinated should be isolated for 10 days.

Gillian Keegan, the minister of social services, said the move, which went into effect Wednesday, designed to help reduce economic downturns. “[It is] improving the economy, keeping supply chains, keeping the NHS going. . . to see if people can, with the same risk, return to work already, ”he said.

But co-operatives said that although the change was “wise” with the Omicron-wide coronavirus sweeping the country, it would not be a silver bullet, and the number of cases multiplying the staff shortage which has already plagued many sectors.

Meanwhile, Unite the Union said it was receiving reports from workers being forced to work after a Covid test, while others, in restaurants suffering from a downturn, saw the changes removed for free.

“As the risks rise, the level of isolation begins to sting,” said John Foster, chief campaign officer at the CBI, adding that mass screening may be necessary for businesses to operate.

Empty tables outside London restaurants near the busy Christmas holidays © Tolga Akmen / AFP / Getty Images

Ian Wright, executive director of the Food and Drink Federation, an industrial organization, said: “Things are moving fast, and they are new. [Covid] the complexity exacerbates the existing problems with regard to the decline in employment and the complexity within the sales force. ”

As the offices reach the holiday and many manufacturers begin to suspend, hospitality businesses, retailers and art galleries have been among the most affected – but for many, the rise in travel is accompanied by a decrease in the demand that has allowed them. disrupting employees.

Paul Fleming, secretary-general of Equity, the actors’ association, said more than half of London’s exhibitions had been closed down, largely due to illness, and had stopped the spread across the country. Some of the now unemployed actors have moved to venues where there were fewer domestic workers, Foster said.

Phil Urban, general manager of restaurants and mall Mitchells & Butlers, said “it’s no surprise that there are already closed doors and kitchens to close” – Brown restaurants in Canary Wharf have closed. his staff was relocated to another location in London.

Retailers, despite concerns about rising staff shortages, have managed to run smoothly so far, according to the British Retail Consortium – probably because supermarkets took on more workers in anticipation of the crisis, and possibly due to a slowdown due to Omicron concerns. .

Foster said many businesses were under-represented, and were looking for difficulties in recruiting staff for the organization, paying extra time and cutting back a bit. But there were growing concerns over public sector and construction sectors that needed to make all the economy work – from schools and hospitals to transportation and gas processing.

Local companies including Avanti West Coast, Northern and ScotRail have warned riders to expect temporary information removal due to the prevalence of occupational diseases and isolation. The Royal Mail said the shortage of staff was almost double the same period in 2018.

NHS staff say rising Covid disease and other conditions could make nearly 10% of NHS 1.3m staff sick on Christmas Day © Victoria Jones / PA

But the worst pressures are in the NHS and the social care sector.

More than 10 doctors are out of work in the UK, and one in 24 has left due to Covid, according to research of its members by the Royal College of Physicians. In London, one of the 13 is not the cause of Covid – the same rate as the onset of the epidemic, “at a time when they are growing older with tired and frustrated workers”.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, who represents the working leaders, said the rise in Covid and other illnesses could cause about 10 per cent of the 1.3m staff in the NHS to not get sick on Christmas Day in mental health, ambulance, primary. , community services and hospitals.

He added that if cases continue to escalate right now, “serious disruption is inevitable”.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, a corporate organization, said the growing epidemic among front-line workers is turning the long-term crisis into a problem – many nursing homes are now refusing to accept new referrals, even as hospitals try to evacuate patients. a clear location for those who are expected to undergo surgery in Omicron patients.

The government’s “difficult” policy that workers should not move between care facilities, because of disease prevention measures, makes it harder to fill vacancies, he said.

Reports by Delphine Strauss, Sarah Neville, Alice Hancock, Jim Pickard, Philip Georgiadis, Ian Johnston and Harry Dempsey

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