Fears for Sheffield council services after major rise in self-isolations

Sheffield Council bosses are warning ‘decisions will have to be taken’ if the number of staff self-isolating continues to rise.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 9:13 am

The number of employees at the authority having to stay away was more than 60 per cent higher on Friday than it was for the whole of June, raising concerns within the authority.

Collections of green bins for garden waste have already been suspended in Sheffield until further notice due to staffing shortages caused by the pandemic.

The city has also seen reduced bus and tram services due to self isolations as a result of the number of ‘pings’ from the NHS app staff have received.

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Large numbers of council workers in Sheffield are self-isolating (Photo: PA)

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake was among those having to self-isolate last week.

Now Councillor Alison Teal, the authority’s executive member for sustainable neighbourhoods, wellbeing, parks and leisure, has warned there could be more to come.

She said: “We currently have 137 staff self-isolating, we had 85 in June. If these numbers continue to rise decisions about services and how they might be affected will need to be taken.”

The council runs a wide range of services ranging from the city’s bin collections and its recycling centres to carrying out public works including road repairs, and looking after the city’s parks. It also runs the borough’s crematoriums and cemeteries.

Coun Teal’s warning comes as senior ministers are set to discuss extending the rollout of daily testing sites for coronavirus to ease the concerns of industry and frontline services by allowing further exemptions from isolation for critical workers.

Their decisions will depend on the demand registered with Whitehall departments and the ministers' determination of what roles are currently critical, with refuse collectors expected to receive assistance, while the hospitality industry is not.

The vast number of people isolating after being pinged as Covid contacts by the NHS app has been fuelled by the high numbers of coronavirus infections that has swept the nation as the Delta variant thrived and restrictions were eased.

New cases of Covid-19 have fallen for the fifth day in a row, but experts say it is too early for the data to show any impact of ending most of England's remaining legal restrictions.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor