There are signs that the impact of so-called “pingdemic” on the industry is diminishing as the number of people asked by the NHS Covid-19 app to self-isolate has almost halved in the past week .
New official figures show that almost 400,000 people were “pinged” by the app in the last seven days, compared to 700,000 people the week before, a decrease of 43%.
Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of Build UK, said the pressure on companies not being able to go to work after a ping seems to have eased.
She told Building: “Every conversation I have with members no longer dominates, which I see as a sign that the pressure has eased a bit.”
It follows the government tweaking the way the app works so that it contacts fewer people and advises them to self-isolate.
The app now scans for Covid-positive cases that the user has come into contact with in the last two days instead of five.
Nichol said the drop in absences was likely due to a combination of the changes to the app and strict social distancing and testing on websites.
However, she warned companies will have to deal with absenteeism for at least another week before the rules on self-isolation are relaxed on August 16.
The Construction Leadership Council asked the government to move the date forward last month.
Absences would “put a lot of pressure” on the construction sector as some sites had to cease operations and self-isolation would even endanger the viability of some companies.
Contractors Travis Perkins and Marshalls also urged the government to reconsider the rules, with the Marshalls executive warning that high levels of absenteeism “endanger our ability to act.”
Travis Perkins had previously admitted that deliveries of some construction products were delayed because employees were pinged.
But Nichol, who sits on the CLC’s Covid Task Force, said the government “hasn’t really moved” to speed up the date for the relaxation of the rules and that companies have now “ceded” not to change.
She added, “It’s tough after everything we’ve been through, but just one more thing to deal with.”
Ministers have put in place a system that exempts individuals from self-isolation, but only those in basic services that could result in death if absent.