Calderdale businesses face losing thousands because of 'pingdemic'

Rising coronavirus rates and self-isolation rules are causing massive disruption across Calderdale.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 9:26 am
The Copper Cow is among the businesses that has had to close for a week.

Hundreds of residents are being told they need to stay at home, leaving businesses unable to open because they do not have enough staff.

Schools have also been struggling, Northern Rail has had to cancel services because of a shortage of train conductors and bin collections have been missed because workers have had to self-isolate.

Currently, people who have tested positive or are told by Test and Trace or the NHS Covid-19 app that they have come into contact with an infected person are asked to stay at home.

According to Department for Health and Social Care data, 1,515 people in Calderdale were told to self-isolate by Test and Trace after being in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to July 7.

More will have been notified by the app and tested positive themselves,

Matt Barton, who co-owns The Copper Cow in Friendly, was hoping to reopen today after having to shut for a week because he did not have enough staff to open. Some were self-isolating after someone they came into contact with tested positive for coronavirus,

He estimates this week will have seen him lose £10,000.

”It was a difficult decision,” he said, “As a business, we can’t afford not to be open.”

He has not been able to use all the perishable stock he had in that will not last until this weekend, and spoke of his frustration at the lack of Government help for firms in this position.

His feelings are shared by Lucy Watkins, owner of Wildgoose coffee shop in Ripponden.

She has also had to shut for a week, and will be reopening on Tuesday, after several members of her team were asked to self-isolate, leaving her without enough workers to run the cafe.

She has had to cancel orders for buffets, cakes and teacher gifts. In orders alone, she estimates she’ll have lost £1,000 and fears the week could have seen her miss out on £5,000 in total.

She bought the business in October and was told she had to shut in November, only opening again in May. “It’s just awful,” she said. “If we were one member of staff down, we could cover but we’ve had to shut.”

Jewellers Lister Horsfall had to close both its Halifax town centre shops this week because staff were self-isolating.

General Manager Gemma Moody said: “It’s frustrating when your staff are double jabbed and you’re following all the rules and you’re still finding this happen.”

She added their firm has been struggling to stay open for the past month because of staff shortages and she thinks other shops will be in the same position. They are hoping to re-open on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Government has said that fully-vaccinated individuals and under-18s will be exempt from having to quarantine over close contacts - but this change will not be introduced until August 16.

Until then, there will be no list of critical workers exempt from isolating rules and exemptions will only be “considered on a case-by-case basis”.

England has now moved to step 4 of the recovery plan, with legal limits on social contacts and face coverings removed.

Calderdale’s Director of Public Health, Deborah Harkins, said: “Although national restrictions have further relaxed, it’s important we’re all aware that Covid-19 is still circulating within our communities and rates in Calderdale are now the highest we’ve seen throughout the whole pandemic.

“I don’t say this to cause panic, but to make people aware of the ongoing risks and stress the importance of not returning to our pre-pandemic behaviours too quickly.

“To ensure we continue to protect the most vulnerable, as well as those working in essential services and to reduce increasing pressures on our health services, it’s important we keep up the kind and considerate actions that have already got us through some really difficult times.

“A key part of this is continuing to follow the five big things:

· Give others space

· Wear a mask in high-risk places

· Get tested and self-isolate if you have symptoms

· Mix outside / let air in

· Get both doses of the vaccine

“We know the ongoing challenges of having to self-isolate, but it’s so important that if you have symptoms you get tested and self-isolate straight away. This breaks the chain of infection and as well as protecting others it also minimises any subsequent impacts on our local businesses, who have already faced so many challenges.

“Anyone testing positive for Covid-19 must, by law, self-isolate for 10 days from the time that they were in contact with the case. The same applies to anyone told by NHS Test and Trace that they have been in contact with someone with Covid-19.

"The ending of restrictions does not change this. We also encourage anyone who gets an alert from the Covid-19 app to isolate in line with the advice given in the alert.

“It’s so important that we remember that although most restrictions are ending, the risk of Covid-19 is still very much with us. We need to keep following the guidelines that remain in place and continue to act considerately and continue to take precautions to protect others.”