Iceland responds to ‘pingdemic’ with recruitment drive

Iceland is set to recruit an extra 2000 workers as it grapples with staff shortages caused by the “pingdemic”.

Businesses have been plunged into chaos after the numbers told to self-isolate by the NHS coronavirus app soared in recent weeks.

The hiring spree will start in a “few days” with adverts on social media, stores and motorway services.

Speaking to the BBC, Iceland managing director Richard Walker said that 4 per cent of its 30,000-strong workforce were in quarantine.

READ MORE: Iceland launches first-ever gift card programme

“We’ve never had to close a single shop and now we are having to reduce opening hours and close shops,” he claimed.

He called for the government to ease self-isolation rules before August 16, when fully-vaccinated workers can go back to work following a negative PCR test.

Earlier this month, Walker warned that ending Covid-19 restrictions on July 19, a month before lifting quarantine rules, would be a “**** show for business”.

No.10 signalled yesterday that it might allow supermarket workers to dodge self-isolation if they are “pinged”.

“We have been bringing local colleagues in from nearby stores to support the stores that need more help,” an Iceland spokeswoman told The Grocer.

“It has been all hands to the pump. 

“We’ve seen managers driving delivery vans and really going above and beyond.”

On Sunday, Marks and Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe claimed that Covid cases among staff were growing “exponentially”.

“If there’s shortages we’ll have to manage it by changing hours of stores, reducing hours,” he said.

Supermarket absence rates have hit 30 per cent in some areas of the country, up from 20 per cent last week.

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