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Greene King closes 33 pubs after staff told to self-isolate

·2-min read
Pub boss calls for relaxation of self-isolation rules as Covd-19 case numbers rise (PA Archive)
Pub boss calls for relaxation of self-isolation rules as Covd-19 case numbers rise (PA Archive)

One of the UK's largest pub chains has been forced to close 33 of its venues after workers were told to self-isolate.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This is a problem and I think it could get worse. It is disruptive to the business.

"We had to close, in the last seven days, 33 pubs due to lack of staff because of self-isolation.

A sharp rise in Covid case numbers resulted in more than half a million people being "pinged" by the NHS app after coming into close contact with someone with Covid-19 in the week to 7 July.

That number is expected to surge higher as all restrictions are lifted on Monday.

Slug and Lettuce owner Stonegate has said 1,000 of its employees are not available for work and 15 of its bars are closed.

Pub groups including Stonegate wrote to the prime minister last week urging him to relax rules so that workers who have received two doses of vaccine or who test negative after being do not have to self-isolate and can return to work.

Mr Mackenzie added: "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 prime minister faced heavy criticism over the weekend after it was announced that he would not self-isolate despite his health secretary, Sajid Javid, finding out on Friday that he had contracted the virus. Downing Street swiftly retreated and confirmed that Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak would self-isolate.

Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of PureGym, told the Today programme: "We've been talking for a while internally about living in the 'United Pingdom' and it has become a huge challenge for individuals and businesses.

"Up to 25 per cent, in some areas, of our staff have been asked to self-isolate - we've been able, through flexibility and sharing of labour, to keep sites open so far but it has been a very close call in certain circumstances, and I would echo that I think there is a different way of reacting to the pings for vaccinated people and using lateral flow tests that would help industries of all sorts a great deal and keep the economy functioning."

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