Brighton’s businesses are continuing to struggle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as their post lockdown trade is now being hit by the disruption of the NHS App’s ‘Pingdemic’.
The tourists and visitors are returning to the city’s independent stores, only to discover that they have been forced to close yet again.
Due to the isolation exemption list, many businesses do not qualify to stay open and must instead force their staff to isolate as the app delivers notifications that visitors have been identified by track and trace.
The situation is reaching unimaginable heights, with some business owners reporting up to five pings within a single week.
Alongside this, many of these owners are performing consistent negative Covid tests to prove that they had not in fact been infected by the virus.
With the cost of lost business adding up, those affected have been forced to delete or disable the application just to avoid the possibility of being closed all summer.
Current guidelines state that while critical workers are no longer required to follow the app’s instructions following revised guidance, businesses in the retail and hospitality sector are not exempt.
This is making the potential of staff shortages, lost revenue and consistent closures a real possibility over the coming months.
In places such as The Lanes, many small businesses are being forced to shut with a culture of fear growing due to the threat this may have.
Many of the criticisms of the app revolve around its inability to record safety provisions used by shops such as glass screens and continued mask usage.
The use of Bluetooth also means that there are many flaws in the ability to track when someone living next door could essentially cause an alert to take place.
Debt, rent arrears and other financial difficulty is continuing to threaten the futures of local companies who could be bankrupted as a result of these unnecessary self-isolation warnings.
Many retail workers range between the ages of 18-30, meaning that they also are not yet protected by the double vaccination procedure.
Photo Credit: William Hook