LONDON - Gas stations have been closed, garbage collection has been canceled and supermarket shelves have been emptied food, water and other essentials.
In a week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised England a return to normal after months of lockdown rules ended, a coronavirus-tired nation was instead battered by yet another crisis.
This one is called the "Pingdemic".
With virus case numbers soaring a gain, hundreds of thousands of people have been notified - or cracked - by a government sponsored phone app asking them to self-isolate for 10 days because they were in contact with someone who tested positive.
So many of workerrs have been hit as some businesses have closed or started a desperate search for new staff, and a political battle has erupted with the opposition Labor Party warning of a "summer of chaos" after conflicting statements government on how to respond to a ping request.
Persons notified by the app are not required by law to isolate themselves , but the official government position is that it wants them to do so. On Thursday, it planned to release a list of critical workers to be exempt from self-isolation in order to keep things going. execution.
T This followed a warning from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, of a possible disruption of the capital's transport network, food supply and refuse collection services . A West Midlands Police said he was hit by a staff shortage . Stores have called on customers not to panic-buy, and there have even been calls for the government to consider using the military to help fill the shortage of truck drivers.
"It seemsThe there being total chaos at the heart of government right now: you have ministers who are not talking about the same, and that suggests that is not a scenario, "said Tim Bale, professor of politics at the University. Queen Mary of London, adding that it was evident that an increase in the number of cases - which the government itself had predicted - would mean more people would be questioned.
This was not what the government hoped for when it lifted most legal restrictions on coronaviruses in England on Monday, a moment hailed as 'Freedom Day' by tabloids.
Mr. Johnson argues the country has good levels of protection due to its successful vaccine rollout and this summer is the best time to end the rules as schools are on vacation and there is generally less transmission of the virus, people spending more time at thxinterior.
But the relaxation coincided with a large spike in new cases, numbering around 40,000 per day, caused by the highly infectious Delta variant . Inevitably, this was reflected in the number of respondents; in the week of July 8-15, over 600,000 alerts were issued by the app, straining many businesses and utilities.
Supermarkets have warned of staff shortages, as have trucking companies, and the British Meat Processors Association said 5-10 percent of the workforce at some of its companies has been surveyed . If the situation deteriorates further, some will be forced to start shutting down production lines, he said. Image Commuters on a crowded rush hour train in London on Monday. Credit ... Martin Pope / Images
" I am increasingly concerned about our ability to maintain current levels of absolutely critical services such as transport blic, food supplies and garbage collection, "said Mr. Khan, the mayor. from London, to a newspaper, The Evening Standard. The coronavirus epidemic ›
Some companies are so desperate that they ask employees todo not isolate yourself but test yourself and enter work if they are negative.
To complicate matters, there are two systems parallels of coronavirus warnings in Britain.
In addition to the app, the government has a more traditional contact tracing system, with staff calling people to warn them that they may have been exposed. Those charged by phone to isolate themselves are legally obliged to do so, while the application is purely advisory.
Sometimes the government has undermined its own appeals to respondents to follow this advice.
Mr. Johnson and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, were both nuts last weekend because they spent time with the health secretary, Sajid Javid, who had caught the Covid-19. But Downing Street announced that Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak would not self-isolate and instead participate in a pilot project allowing them to continue working while undergoing regular testing.
The backlash was so quick that the decision was overturned within hours, with the two men vowing to obey the application. Image Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, near Downing Street last September. The two men received pings from the NHS app and ultimately isolated themselves. Credit ... Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press
Faith in the system has again was overthrown when a business secretary, Paul Scully, pointed out that a ping was merely advisory - a statement but one that did not match Downing Street's continued calls for people to self-isolate if one asked them.
And all week long, the "pingdemic" has been puking more questions with difficulty. What to do, for example, if you are nuts the day before your wedding? Cancel everything?
"Oh my God", Home Secretary Victoria Atkins, said to LBC Radio when asked this question . "The advice is " please, you must stay at home ".It's a terribly, terribly difficult scenario. "
According to media reports, an idea launched within the government was to reduce the number of respondents by weakening the sensitivity of the application, which uses Bluetooth technology to alert those within two meters of an infected person for 15 minutes or more.
This appears to have been rejected at reason that it would prevent the application from doing its job.
A more obvious solution would be to exempt those who have the protection of two doses of vaccine - more than half of the population - although some people may still be infected even after vaccination . The government plans to do so anyway, but not until mid-August, on dThe next step was to give more people time to get vaccinated.
But on Thursday Jeremy Hunt, a former health secretary, asked if he It was not time "for the government to listen to public opinion and immediately abolish the 10-day isolation requirement for people who have been double stung ".
"Otherwise," he warned, referring to the app, "we risk losing social consent for this very, very important weapon against the virus. "
This may be happening already.
The latest data seems to show that the number of infections increases faster than number of pings. This, along with the results of some opinion polls, suggests that the app is quietly being removed from phones nationwide.
Maybe worst louser the government, the 'pingedemia' crisis illustrated the scale of the gamble Mr Johnson has taken in removing almost all restrictions on coronaviruses in England - even by opening nightclubs - at a time when infections are so high.
"The emphasis on " pingemia "is a bit of a distraction " said Professor Bale, who noted that this was the logical consequence of the high number of cases. “The problem is really that the virus is going wild again. "