World Leisure Jobs - Humphrey Cobbold says Pingdemic is a huge challenge for the sector as up to a quarter of staff are isolating...
22 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
 
 
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27 Jul 2021

Humphrey Cobbold says Pingdemic is a huge challenge for the sector as up to a quarter of staff are isolating
BY Tom Walker

Cobbold said being able to keep sites open has been a

Cobbold said being able to keep sites open has been a "very close call" in some areas
photo: PureGym

The Pingdemic of people receiving notifications on their phones, telling them to self-isolate because of contact with COVID-19 cases, is threatening to create staff shortages across health clubs and fitness studios in England and Wales.


The fitness sector universally welcomed the lifting of all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July, which saw the removal of limits on group exercise classes and the end for mandatory social distancing measures.

However, "Freedom Day" – and the weeks leading up to it – have resulted in hundreds of thousands of people (among them gym staff) being "pinged" by the NHS' test and trace app.

This has left many fitness operators short of staff to keep their sites open, as those receiving the notification need to stay away from work for 10 days.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of PureGym, said the huge increase in people being alerted is causing unwanted disruption to businesses that are trying to recover after 16 months of lockdown.

"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," Cobbold said.

"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.

"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."

According to government figures, more than 520,000 people were pinged in the week to 7 July and told to self-isolate.

The following week (8 - 15 July), the figure had increased to more than 600,000 people.



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