Covid ‘Pings’ Could Threaten Motor Industry

Mon 19th Jul 2021

The British automotive industry is on the brink of yet more disruption with Covid chaos and isolation threatening to shut factories across the UK.

Some of the country’s biggest car companies saw production levels fall to record numbers in 2020 due to pandemic lockdowns, and with microchip shortages already hampering efforts in 2021 it was hoped that ‘Freedom Day’ might bring a change of fortune for the industry.

But like many major industries and employers across the nation, automotive firms are finding it hard to keep their workforce on the job due to high numbers being forced to isolate due to ‘contact’ with infected colleagues.

Data from earlier in the month showed that there were more than half a million alerts sent to users of the NHS Covid-19 app, advising that they had to stay at home for up to 10 days.

While a change in the sensitivity of the app is planned to alleviate mass workforce shortages, leaders of one of the UK’s largest unions, Unite, has said that work could move away from country unless things change.

No one is advocating for coronavirus controls to go out the window … But the reports Unite is receiving from our members and their employers are extremely worrying,” said Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.

“It is not an exaggeration to say factories are on the verge of shutting and that at some sites hundreds of staff are off work.”

Mr Turner added: “It is clear that something has to be done in time for 19 July, or else people will simply start deleting the app en masse to avoid isolation notices. There will be public health consequences if test and trace becomes seen as a nuisance.”

Some key workers, such as NHS staff, have been given permission to bypass Covid ‘pings’ but only if they have had a test. But the impact on the motor industry is already being felt with reports that up to 700 workers were self-isolating at Nissan’s Sunderland plant.