Hospitality venues in Cumbria have described how the so-called 'Pingdemic' has affected their businesses over the past month.

Staff numbers have dwindled for many cafes and restaurants in our region after a record 689,313 people in England and Wales were contacted by the NHS Covid app and asked to self-isolate in the week to 12 July, which has led to widespread disruption caused by surging case rates.

Official data from the app showed an 11.4% increase in the number of people “pinged” over the previous week.

Separate figures published by NHS test and trace showed that 597,260 people in England were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive in the same week – the highest since January when England was in lockdown.

The manager Carole Johnston of the popular John Watt's coffee house has described how the increase in case rates has impacted their business as well as increasing the worry for staff and the business during this period.

"We lost one roaster but if we lost both roasters, we would be struggling.

"The Bank Street Shop is open but we're not up to full capacity. We're still running at about 65-70% of what we were two years ago. This has affected our profitability and losing staff members would have quite an impact on us. So we're having sleepless nights.

"Our team has been fantastic, we've had to bring staff to help with our wholesaling service during the pandemic, but I can't thank them enough.

The owner of the Halston Hotel and the Penny Blue restaurant Jann Besombes explained the difficulties they have faced in terms staff shortages.

"It's actually been really, really difficult. Everything started to reopen with restrictions lifted with the business filling up with customers. In the same time, however, we had staff members who need to isolate due to being in contact with Covid cases.

"I had to isolate myself for five days with our sous chef also having to, so it was key people we were missing. In one case, we had a 150-person wedding booked in for the same week. So we had to close the Penny Blue restaurant for thee days.

"It was a last minute thing, so of course, some customers we had to upset but we had o close the restaurant to get all hands on deck where we could for the weeding."

He added that he had to close aspects of his business due to staff shortages, saying: "We closed some departments. We also had to reduce the bedroom allocation that we had for the week for the last two weeks as we had people in isolation. Customers have been very understanding but there is that frustration that finally restrictions were lifted but we couldn't provide service.

Mr Besombes also explained that the Pingdemic has also affected the supply chain for his services with staff shortages meaning that this has created further difficulties.

"The second issue is to do with suppliers, he vowed.

"With the Pingdemic,we have a situation where they don't have enough drivers to meet demand. This coupled with complications of Brexit has meant hat we have been short on some deliveries. On top, they have to use a courier service and some arrive late or are not delivering in the right places so that is creating more difficulties for us."