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NHS app is a ‘joke’ claims Diss barbershop owner after having to close for a week following 'pingdemic'

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A salon owner has slammed the NHS Covid app after having to close two of his barber shops after staff were told to self-isolate.

Tom Old, 31, co-owner of the MR Barbers shop in Diss, said the app was “a joke” after staff had to go into self-isolation after being alerted on the NHS Test and Trace app that they had been in contact with somebody who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Old was forced to close his St Nicholas Street store, along with another in Stowmarket, for 10 days. As a result, he said that the two salons lost more than 100 appointments between them and his teams of self-employed barbers lost hundreds of pounds of business.

Thousands of businesses across the country are being forced to shut up shop after being pinged by the NHS app.
Thousands of businesses across the country are being forced to shut up shop after being pinged by the NHS app.

“The app is really a bit of a joke,” said Mr Old. “I understand the thinking behind it, but it seems like the whole reopening has been rushed; people have panicked and it has not be structured properly.

“One of the team at Stowmarket was pinged a week last Thursday and this was shortly followed by another in Diss.

“Because they couldn’t be with the others, it meant we had to close the shops.

“It also meant we had to get straight on the computer that night and cancel all the appointments for the next day, the weekend and all of the past week.

He continued: “Our barbers are self-employed, so this means that, after everything the industry has been through, it came as a real kick in the teeth that they immediately had to self-isolate.

“It is just frustrating more than anything, and upsetting.”

Mr Old has run the barbers’ shops with business partner Mark Lovell for seven years.

Four staff work at the Stowmarket shop and three in Diss. Both shops reopened on Monday.

The NHS Covid app has sent thousand of workers across the country back home this week, with government ministers insisting the guidance to self-isolate for 10 days must be followed.

As businesses struggle to cope with decimated staffing levels, the growing number of people being told to go into isolation after receiving a notification is being referred to as a ‘pingdemic’.

“It was upsetting for the barbers who were just getting going again and looking forward to Freedom Day,” added Mr Old.

“We are a strong team, though, and we’ll keep our heads up as we have been through a lot already, with the stop-start approach to the economy over the last 18 months.

“Our fear, though, is as it has already happened once, in two of our shops, it may well happen again.”

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