Hastings shops and cafes ‘could be forced to close’ due to Covid ‘pingdemic’

Shops and cafes in Hastings and St Leonards may be forced to close their doors if Covid infection rates continue to rise.

John Bownas, manager of Love Hastings said it was ‘inevitable’ some businesses would have to shut temporarily if too many staff get pinged by the NHS Test and Trace app to tell them they have been potentially exposed to the virus.

He said: “Hastings’ shops, bars and restaurants are currently largely trading as normal despite some pockets of self-isolation that are putting pressure on staffing rotas.

“It’s inevitable, however, that some businesses will be forced to close temporarily over coming weeks and months if too many of their team receive the unwanted ‘ping’ to tell them they have been potentially exposed to the virus.

John Bownas SUS-200312-101015001

“There is a real concern that with the Government’s admission that infection rates are likely to rise due to the removal of restrictions we will find that, just when trade is likely to be at its busiest, some shops and cafes may be forced to close their doors - and this is with no grant funding support currently on the table.

“It’s also evident that most customers are choosing to continue to wear masks, and this could point to the hospitality trade not seeing enough people sufficiently confident to return in the numbers necessary to take them into profit.”

In the last few days, major businesses across the UK have been affected by the so-called ‘pingdemic’, where workers have had to self-isolate amid the increase in Covid infection rates due to the Delta variant.

The ‘pingdemic’ has led to business leaders calling for an immediate change to the rules so that fully vaccinated people do not have to isolate.

The self-isolation requirement for those who have had both does of the Covid vaccine is set to be eased on August 16.

Mr Bownas added: “At the same time though, it’s encouraging to be able to report how many new businesses are opening their doors right now.

“This points to a sense that people are still ready to invest their time and money into Hastings. If we all support our local firms whenever we can we can come through all this stronger than ever before.”