Around one in five hospitality staff are self-isolating due to rules around coronavirus contact tracing, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said.
Speaking to Parliament's Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee today (13 July), Nicholls warned that the figure was forecast to soon rise to about a third of the industry's workforce.
She said the change in rules from 16 August, which will end quarantine requirements in England for fully vaccinated people who have been a contact of someone with Covid-19, will have a delayed impact on hospitality, where around 60% of the workforce is under 30 years old.
Nicholls said: "In reality that change in policy… won't really start to kick in and affect our workforce in a material way until the beginning of September because of the higher proportion of younger workers we've got who, through no fault of their own, are not double-vaccinated at that point."
The changes are not coming into force until almost a month after 19 July, when all social distancing rules are set to end in England.
Last week health secretary Sajid Javid told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that cases could hit 100,000 a day this month, prompting concerns that huge numbers of hospitality staff could be asked to isolate.
Operators have warned they face a situation "worse than lockdown" with sites forced to close without financial support due to whole teams having to stay at home.
Nicholls stressed that hospitality was already struggling with labour shortages and that test and trace rules were worsening the situation.
"We have a vacancy rate of about 10%, so we're short of 200,000 workers and we're actively trying to recruit for those, and we've got labour shortages that are exacerbated by self-isolation and businesses trying to juggle that process."
She added that around 200,000 hospitality staff were still on full furlough and around 400,000 supported part-time through the scheme.
Nicholls reiterated calls for a test to release programme to "keep people safely in work" and allow businesses to keep trading.
"For many of our [small and medium-size businesses]… if you lose one or two key workers you can't open the site at all and therefore you're closing the business fully and losing money as we're moving into that reopening period," she said.
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