The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for an “immediate rethink on self-isolation rules” to help businesses manage their workforces as the economy reopens and recovers.
Thousands of people are currently being informed by NHS apps that they need to self-isolate for several days for Covid-related reasons and that process is beginning to have a major impact on employers.
Having released a new set of figures reflecting performance and sentiment among UK manufacturers, the CBI has said companies will need support from the government to navigate what is now being called a ‘pingdemic’ due to the numbers of people being ‘pinged’ by their smartphone apps.
Strict rules on self-isolation are due to be eased from mid-August but businesses are reportedly struggling to cope with the impacts of self-isolation protocols on their operations.
“Businesses have already endured a prolonged period of inhibited demand, so it is vital that government now takes all possible steps to protect this resurgence in activity,” said Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist in a statement.
“A test-and-release system which enables healthy people to return to work would help, as would freeing double-jabbed people from isolation obligations.”
The CBI’s latest survey of manufacturing companies across the UK found that 16 of 17 subsectors within the industry increased their output during the quarter to the end of June, with business optimism generally high by historical standards.
However, the confederation’s information also points to concerns among manufacturers about their ongoing ability to access materials, skilled labour and plant capacity.
Meanwhile, cost pressures on manufacturers are being described as “acute” and average costs growth in the second quarter of this year accelerated at a sharper pace than has been recorded in any three-month period since 1980.
“It has been a strong summer for the UK’s manufacturing sector, with orders and output performing well,” noted Tom Crotty, chair of the CBI’s manufacturing council.
“However, it is not all positive news for the sector; many firms are grappling with staff shortages and facing difficulty accessing materials, all of which is putting a huge strain on operations.
“It will be essential for the government to work with manufacturers to address these challenges if the sector’s strong performance is to continue.”