Honesty Group

The New ‘Ping-Demic’

As hospitality businesses finally start to get back on their feet, it appears they are hit with a new threat – the ‘ping-demic’. Definition: a wave of people across the country being ‘pinged’ by the track and trace app and being told to self isolate. Cause: a rising number of cases and the re-introduction of socialisation. Effect: struggling businesses forced to close due to lack of staff – devastation. 

The Hospitality Crisis

 

It is no secret that the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. This being because pubs, restaurants and cafés were one of the last to be allowed to open, and when they were, they had a never ending list of restrictions to abide by. These restrictions were absolutely necessary for the protection of the public from the virus that has taken so many lives. However, the reopening and closing of venues actually did more damage than just remaining closed for a longer period of time and opening when it was safe.

 

Hospitality was already a previously exploited industry, with people being expected to work long hours, double shifts, for minimum wage. This is in addition to Brexit which saw the many EU nationals that make up a large proportion of the hospitality industry travel home and be unable to re-enter the country. There were 102,000 vacancies in hospitality from April to June this year alone! Yet as venues reopen, they are expected to operate as normal with less than normal numbers of staff. As a business that respects their staff, will never require them to work double shifts and will always pay the foundation living wage or above, even we have struggled to remain open. 

 

During the pandemic, people were being urged to change careers in order to keep the economy running and to help people to continue to earn a living if they were ineligible for furlough. Even if they were eligible, many did not want to sit at home for an unspecified period of time doing nothing. With this push by the government to pursue other careers, the future consequences were not considered, and now we face a hospitality staff shortage nationally.

Recruitment

 

As a business whose outlets are mostly in rural locations, it has been particularly difficult to recruit staff. A lot of younger people who also make up a large proportion of the workforce, are often unable to drive and therefore cannot travel to the location we are recruiting for. This an additional struggle to the already shortened workforce due to losing EU nationals. 

 

Our CEO and Founder, Romilla Arber, has already applied for a sponsors licence in order to be able to recruit internationally, however has been met with an inexcusable waiting list of more than 8 weeks! Considering the current crisis, it should be a priority to help the economy recover, and hospitality businesses are a huge part of that. This is an issue that Romilla previously brought up with the local MP in 2017; change was promised and yet we are still facing the same issues 4 years later. Disappointment and frustration are words that come to mind, but also unsurprised. 

What to do about the ‘pings’

 

Unfortunately there isn’t much to do. It is a situation completely out of our control. Although the pings are advisory and not compulsory, we as a company are not willing to put our staff or customers at risk for the sake of profit. If staff have been pinged, and told to self-isolate, it is our job as a business to work around the shortages – even if that means closing temporarily. This is a hard truth that many businesses have had to face, and it seems unfair that this burden falls on the businesses themselves with little to no help from the government. 

 

Our new location, Honesty at Dummer Down, only opened on the 12th July; and after being open for a mere three days, there was an influx of staff being pinged, which ultimately forced the location to close. As a small business where opening new locations requires a lot of investment, you can imagine how devastating it has been.

 

The ‘test to release’ system used for travellers entering the UK could be expanded to the hospitality industry to help struggling businesses get their staff back to work sooner. This is where after isolating for five days, having a negative PCR test could end their isolation early. This appears to be a solution that could help everyone, people who are pinged still have to isolate, and a confirmed negative test ensures the spread of the virus is being minimised as much as possible. 

The Future of Hospitality


An already crippled industry cannot survive on crutches for support for much longer, causing the future to look worrying and uncertain for many. Retaining and recruiting staff will be a focus for businesses, a large part of this will be offering support, comfortable hours and a living wage – something all businesses should be doing anyway. As a customer, support smaller and independent businesses wherever you can. Show up, show your support, and we are hopeful that a light may appear at the end of the very dark tunnel. 

As hospitality businesses finally start to get back on their feet, it appears they are hit with a new threat – the ‘ping-demic’. Definition: a wave of people across the country being ‘pinged’ by the track and trace app and being told to self isolate. Cause: a rising number of cases and the re-introduction of socialisation. Effect: struggling businesses forced to close due to lack of staff – devastation.

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