The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the Government act to change self-isolation guidance for workers.
Retailers are under “increasing pressure” to keep shelves fully stocked amid staff shortages caused by the “pingdemic”, industry bosses have warned.
It comes as Britain’s mounting lorry driver shortage also puts increased pressure on the country’s grocery supply chain.
Shoppers have already taken to social media to highlight empty shelves appearing in supermarkets across the country.
Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the BRC, said staff in stores and suppliers should be allowed to work even if they get an alert to self-isolate.
“The ongoing ‘pingdemic’ is putting increasing pressure on retailers’ ability to maintain opening hours and keep shelves stocked," ele disse.
“Government needs to act fast. Retail workers and suppliers, who have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, should be allowed to work provided they are double vaccinated or can show a negative Covid teste, to ensure there is no disruption to the public’s ability to get food and other goods.
“With community cases soaring, the number of healthy retail staff having to self-isolate is rising fast, disrupting retail operations.”
Food industry bosses also warned that supply chains are “starting to fail” because of workers isolating over coronavirus contacts.
British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen also criticised “confusing messages” from the Government as he said ministers have not clarified who is applicable.
It came as Boris Johnson apologised to businesses for the “inconvenience” on Wednesday, but told them to stick with isolation rules after confusion was sown by his own ministers.
Mr Allen said that shortage of skills and workers for permanent positions is reaching a “critically high level”, with vacancies already high prior to increased staff isolations.
“We’ve heard reports of plants having between 10% e 16% vacancies even before absenteeism due to Covid is factored-in.
“On top of the underlying worker shortage, we’re also hearing from some members that between 5% e 10% of their workforce have been ‘pinged’ by the app and asked to self-isolate.
“There’s a real air of despondency creeping through the industry.”