Iceland closes shops and M&S may change opening hours due to staff shortages

Frozen food retailer Iceland has had to close several shops due to a shortage of staff who are being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app.

Supermarket boss, Richard Walker, explained that more than 1000 workers had been notified by the app and were forced to stay off work.

The shortage totals around 4% of Iceland’s 30,000 strong workforce and is the “highest since testing began, the boss reported.

Iceland is now looking to hire a further 2000 people in order to increase the pool of staff available to work during what’s been dubbed the “pingdemic.”

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Record numbers of Brits are being told to self-isolate by the NHS app.

Mr Walker told the BBC: "A number of stores have had to close and the concern is as this thing increases exponentially… it could get a lot worse a lot quicker."

He added that staff absences were increasing 50% week on week and are up 400% since June.

Meaning that some stores will not be able to get enough staff in to run the shop.

This could cause difficulty for people whose local supermarket closes down – especially those who have mobility issues or cannot shop further afield.

It comes as a blow to any Brits who thought Freedom Day would bring more normality to their lives.

Mr Walker also said that it was one of the “great ironies” that Iceland has managed so far to stay open throughout the last 18 months.

He said: “We've never had to close a single shop and now we are having to reduce opening hours and close shops.”

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And, it’s not the only supermarket affected as M&S has stated that staff shortages mean opening hours may have to be reduced to cope.

Steve Rowe, chief executive of M&S, told the Times: "Our Covid cases are roughly doubling every week and the pinging level is about three to one of Covid cases, so we’re seeing that growing exponentially,"

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

And, he noted that staff shortages in the supply chain could leave shelves empty.

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