This is the help available for Ipswich firms hit by 'pingdemic'

A notification issued by the NHS coronavirus contact tracing app - informing a person of the need to

There has been a spike in the number of people being 'pinged' by the NHS COVID app, asking them to self-isolate - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson and a whole host of Conservative government ministers are now behaving as though they don’t believe the rules on self-isolation – rules they brought in – apply to them.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us who can’t choose which rules are optional, self-isolation is continuing to cause havoc in the real world.

The resultant staff shortages are forcing businesses to close temporarily. There is a real shortage of HGV drivers which is causing supply chain problems across a whole host of industries. This is likely to get worse before it gets better.

The effects are visible here in Ipswich. There have been several reports in the Star and EADT of pubs forced to close because their staff are self-isolating. Anyone walking through the town centre over the past couple of weeks will have seen other shuttered businesses with a notice on the door. It is becoming more common to see gaps on the shelves in supermarkets.

One less publicised aspect of this situation is that there is very little support for affected businesses. There is no Government scheme for businesses forced to close by self-isolation rules and general Government Covid support for businesses has started to be wound down.

This is a double whammy for small businesses: more likely to be closed by the absence of one or two staff members and less likely to have cash reserves to see them through a temporary closure after a year of lockdowns.

That’s why Ipswich Borough Council has just launched a new grant scheme to help local businesses who have been affected by the “pingdemic”.

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The grant is open to businesses operating from premises in Ipswich that have been forced to close due to Covid between 21st June – the original “Freedom Day” – and 16th August when rules around self-isolation are due to be significantly relaxed.

This would include businesses that have had to close due to lack of staff because of they have been told to self-isolate or because they have been directed to close due to an outbreak.

The grant payable is between £150 and £200 per day of closure up to a maximum of ten days. Claims can be made up 6th September.

Full details and an online application form are available at: