Pub giant Greene King has been forced to close 33 pubs over the past week, while retail and entertainment bosses have also faced closures after staff were asked to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app.
Nick Mackenzie, managing director of Greene King, said he believes the current self-isolation rules need to be reformed after being forced to close some pubs or reduce opening hours.
The latest figures showed that more than 500,000 people in England and Wales were told by the NHS app to self-isolate in the week leading up to July 1.
People who have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus must self-isolate for 10 days.
Mr Mackenzie told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: ‘This is a problem and I think it could get worse. It’s disruptive for the business.
“We have had to close 33 pubs in the past seven days due to understaffing due to self-isolation.
“Across the industry, we think about one in five of our team has been affected by this and therefore it poses a real problem for us to start a business on a day-to-day basis – we have to have reduced hours under certain conditions. “
Mr Mackenzie, whose group operates 2,500 pubs, hotels and restaurants across the UK, called on the government to expand its test and release program to allow staff who test negative for the coronavirus to return at work after being pinged.
Another pub owner, Young’s, also reported last week that around 350 of his employees were self-isolating due to Covid’s tracking rules.
The UKHospitality business group warned MPs last week that around “a fifth” of workers in the industry were self-isolating following a “ping”.
Chief Executive Officer Kate Nicholls added that changes planned for August to allow double-vaccinated workers to avoid isolation will have limited benefits until September due to the younger population of hotel staff.
Meanwhile, Richard Walker, managing director of the Iceland supermarket group, said about 4% of the total workforce is currently absent due to the coronavirus.
“We have more than 1,000 people absent because of Covid, this is the highest number since the start of the tests,” he told the BBC.
“This represents about 4% of our total workforce of 30,000 people. In fact, we just announced the hiring of 2,000 more people on top of that to give us a bigger labor pool, because so many people are nuts now. “
Asked about the impact on the business, he said: “A number of stores have had to close and the concern is that as this situation grows exponentially, as we just heard, it could get worse, much faster. “
Humphrey Cobbold, Managing Director of PureGym, said: “We’ve been talking internally for some time about living in ‘United Pingdom’ and it’s become a huge challenge for individuals and businesses.
“Up to 25%, in some areas, of our staff were asked to self-isolate – we were able, through the flexibility and sharing of the workforce, to keep the sites open until present, but it has been very tight under certain conditions. “