A variety of business owners and a teacher have told Gef of the impact that Omicron and isolating staff is having on their work and viability.
The recent wave of new cases before and since Christmas has led to a cancellations of parties and dinners, as well as services such as beauty treatment and dog grooming being unable to go ahead or cancelled.
One person who contacted us was Claire Turner of The Creek in Peel. She said that the business had seen ‘major disruption over November and December’. Claire said the business has ‘had to close the kitchen numerous days, amounting to a major loss of earnings’. This included ‘cancellations galore’ or bookings being reduced. She said that in one instance, with just 24 hours notice, a group booking went from 40 down to eight.
As with many businesses in the hospitality sector, Claire said The Creek relies on young weekend staff, many of whom will be students. She said that they were waiting to see what the return to school this week would be for their staff.
Claire added: ‘I’m extremely sorry that at many times over the festive period we have had to make changes to our services and thankful for all the support from old and new customers. We are hoping to run our annual sausage and mash festival throughout January starting this Friday, something last year we were unable to do. Staff are encouraged to take lat flow tests before each shift to minimise any further disruption.’
A Bone to Pick
Kate Divers, a self-employed dog trainer, said appointments in December for her business Ruff Mutts ‘dropped off dramatically’ following the announcement by the government of omicron being on the island. Kate said that some of this was due to shielding until more is known about omicron, but also due to people having Covid or having it in their household.
She added: ‘The financial strain of this has been unbelievable and because the months up to this were ok, the support doesn’t apply! If it does get to the point where I can apply, it will not be until February/March, by which time my business may not be viable, as at present I have no reserves! Additionally, we are still awaiting confirmation as to whether we ever qualify for business support as ‘animal care’ was the first listed exclusion.
‘I think that the government has massively let businesses down at this point and I suspect a lot of business won’t recover.’
A Beautiful Letdown
One woman, who asked us not to use her name, said she runs a new beauty therapy business which has also struggled in recent weeks. She said that her business is currently closed due to Covid and that the sector isn’t getting the support it needs.
The woman said: ‘The schemes they have created to help businesses aren’t great. They require you to compare three consecutive months rather than looking at the spikes, meaning even though October was a terrible month within the lifestyle sector for cancellations due to covid, if we want to also claim for the cancellations happening currently we can’t claim for both, even though the scheme runs from Sept 2021 to March 2022.
‘If we want to wait until the closing date in April to apply, incase Jan/Feb/March end up all being like this week (and October) for cancellations, we will only get the grant April/May time. By then myself and many many other businesses will already be in debt.’
A man who emailed us said that he is having to isolate and ‘having to let work down’.
He said: ‘It might be interesting if you were able to get an indication how many who are not working are not working because they are too ill to work, or just because they had a positive test. I am definitely the latter. I am perfectly well enough to be at work if I was allowed, and certainly well enough that I would benefit from a sensible, distanced walk on the beach nowhere near anyone rather than being confined to the house and going a bit stir crazy.’
Another person we spoke to is a teacher at one of the island’s high schools. They told us that despite schools reopening with Covid measures in place, including an expectation of face coverings being worn in high schools, only a very small number of the students they taught on the first day of term were doing so.
As of 3pm today, the gov is recording 2,842 active cases. However, as with the UK, the numbers are likely higher either as a result of people being asymptomatic and not testing. With the hospitality and lifestyle sectors continuing to see intermittent closures, coupled with the usual January drop off in business, it could still be a long winter for several businesses.