'It cost us £30,000 in one weekend!': Chef explains devastating impact of NHS app pings

19 July 2021, 13:59 | Updated: 19 July 2021, 14:01

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A chef has told LBC the devastating cost of closing for just one weekend due to NHS app 'pings" which cost him £30,000.

Chef Paul Askew from the Art School Restaurant in Liverpool was speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty on 'Freedom Day' as England entered Step 4 of unlocking from Covid rules.

Paul told Shelagh his restaurant "unfortunately lost father's day weekend" after three staff were "pinged" by the NHS app.

The chef revealed closing over the weekend meant he lost 300 bookings and around £30,000 in revenue.

He explained it would be hard for an independent restaurant to take another hit like that.

Paul said his industry had spent the last 16 months "in and out of lockdown" which has led to an uncertain future for revenue.

Explaining how difficult it can be to "open and close businesses three or four times in the space of 12 months," you lose out.

"Everything is stacked against you."

Today marks so-called "freedom day" in England which sees most remaining legal coronavirus restrictions lifted.

After months of pandemic-related constraints, the country has finally reached the last step in the Government's unlocking road map.

The rules mean social distancing limits are largely over, with no more "rule of six" and "one metre plus" restrictions.

Groups of more than six people from multiple households will be able to hang out indoors and outdoors.

Businesses will reopen, including shuttered nightclubs who can welcome party-goers back to dance floors.

The comments come as the Government ruled out tweaking the sensitivity of the NHS Covid-19 app in response to the rising number of people being "pinged".

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We recognise that with high cases that also means a high number of people being required to isolate and that does present significant challenges to businesses.

"We need to strike the right balance between protecting lives and livelihoods.

"That's why we believe it is entirely right that people asked to do so do isolate because we know it prevents onward transmission and eases pressure on our NHS which is facing a significant challenge."

He said the Government would "constantly review" issues around critical workers and critical infrastructure.

Asked whether the app was working as expected and so would not be tweaked, the spokesman said: "That's correct."

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