Scarborough businesses forced to shut amid staff shortages caused by self isolation

Last week we reported concerns from business owners that staff being ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app and told to isolate could cause major issues this summer.

By Corinne Macdonald
Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 12:28 pm

As Freedom Day finally arrived, in time for the school summer holidays, there is a huge opportunity for Scarborough’s businesses to begin to recoup some of their losses from the last 18 months.

However, already, that opportunity is being threatened as staff isolation is causing businesses across the town to close.

Carmen Parker, who owns the Lifeboat Fish Bar at the bottom of Eastborough, was planning to open the cafe side of her business when restrictions were lifted after only operating as a takeaway throughout the pandemic.

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Lifeboat Fish Bar on Eastborough. (JPI Media/ Richard Ponter)

But due to a staff member needing to isolate, she has made the decision to keep the cafe closed for the time being.

“We should be open,” she said, “Especially at this time of year, because the summer keeps us going through the winter.

“You make virtually your year’s money in six weeks.”

“But because we’re a family run business, we daren’t until we know out staff don’t have [Covid] which could forces us to close entirely for ten days.”

John Senior.

Carmen said she felt torn as to whether to open the cafe at all or wait until August 19, when the rules on self-isolation for those who have had both vaccines or are under 18 will be relaxed.

Another South Bay business, The Golden Grid on Sandside, has also had to close due to the effect of self-isolation on staff members.

John Senior, who owns the business and is also chair of the South Bay traders’ association, said Government need to rethink the Covid app.

He said: “I think the app needs to be overhauled.

The Golden Grid on Sandside. (JPI Media/ Richard Ponter)

“The government advise [to businesses] needs to be thought through and brought into harmony with what the public is now being told.”

Mr Senior explained that whilst restrictions on social distancing have now been lifted for the public, as long as the app remains as sensitive to distance as it is, businesses are not really free from restrictions.

“We just want clarity from government.

“Either we have a problem or we don’t, it’s either safe for everyone or it isn’t.”

The Hideout on Columbus Ravine. (JPI Media/ Richard Ponter)

Earlier in the week The Hideout on Columbus Ravine also closed.

In a notice they said: "Unfortunately due to the number of staff we have currently self isolating we will be closed on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th July."

When someone is 'pinged' by the app, isolation is recommended but not mandatory, while those contacted by Test and Trace have a legal duty to self-isolate.

The latest NHS data shows that in the seven days to July 7, 612 people in Scarborough were told to isolate by the app, an increase of 58 from the week before.

This represents a record high since December 17.

When someone is ‘pinged’ by the app, isolation is recommended but not mandatory, unlike for those contacted by Test and Trace.

Carmen Parker also thinks the app needs to be made less sensitive.

She added: “I accept that we need to be careful and the virus is out there but we need to learn to live with it.

“It will make an impact, we have lost a lot of customers.”