Pingdemic hits Harrogate as council warns services may be 'scaled back' temporarily as a result of staff shortages
The 'pingdemic' may force Harrogate Borough Council to cut back on its services temporarily as staff shortages deepen as increasing numbers of people self isolate as a result of the spread of the virus and the impact of the NHS Test and Trace service.
A statement from Harrogate Borough Council said: "Our services are running normally but we’re aware of the increasing rates and number of self-isolation notifications being felt locally and nationally.
"We are working hard to provide our services as normal, including several that have been shut for much of the pandemic.
"To ensure this happens, we may need to scale back some of our non-essential services over the coming weeks as rates, and the number of self-isolation notifications, increase.
"Like everyone else, we aren’t immune. If any of our staff get a notification from the NHS Test and Trace app or develop Covid-19 symptoms, then they must self-isolate.
"Fortunately, for some of our workforce, this doesn't present a problem as we can work at home.
"But for our gardeners, property services, sport and leisure facilities, waste and recycling crews, etc. this isn't possible and may have an unavoidable impact on the services we provide.
"We aren’t at that stage yet and we’re doing everything we can to prevent this from happening. But please bear with us if you face any service disruptions over the coming weeks.
"We need to protect our staff and you, too.
"Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. We will keep you updated as the situation develops."
At a national level, trade bodies such as The British Meat Processors Association have warned that food production lines are failing due to the number of workers self-isolating over coronavirus contacts registered by the NHS app.
The situation is just as bad in schools as test and trace has sent home more than a million students, even if only a small percentage had tested positive for Covid.
The official weekly figures for the NHS Covid app show there were 1, 920 ‘pings’ in Harrogate in the seven days up to July 7, 2021 with these ‘close contact’ alerts advising self isolation.
That compares to a peak of 514 people who were ‘pinged’ in seven days to November 4, 2020.
The impact is being felt in Harrogate's hospitality sector, too.
Recent days have seen businesses including The Den bar and Baltzerzsens cafe in Harrogate and The Bear at Carriages in Knaresborough having to close their doors temporarily because of absent staff before reopening,