UK couples told to scrap wedding if 'pinged' the night before

NHS Covid app sparks 'pingdemic', with thousands instructed to self-isolate

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Couples getting married in the UK must self-isolate if they are pinged by the NHS Covid app, they have been told, even if it is on the morning of their wedding.

This would mean the ceremony would have to be cancelled, potentially incurring thousands of pounds in costs.

Questioned on London radio station LBC, home office minister Vicky Atkins acknowledged that it was a "terribly, terribly difficult scenario" but said the guidance is that couples "must stay at home".

The UK is in the grip of a so-called pingdemic, and last week a record 618,903 people in England and Wales were instructed to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app.

The spate of pings his being sparked by increasing Covid case numbers in the UK, with daily infections for more than a week now consistently topping 40,000.

A combination of the highly transmissible Delta variant and the easing of UK restrictions are proving to be a potent pairing for spreading the virus.

Restrictions pertaining to weddings were removed as part of Monday's Freedom Day in the UK, meaning the requirement to limit guest lists to no more than 30 people was abolished.

The wedding industry has been badly hit by the pandemic and its attendant restrictions.

Prospective spouses are not the only people to be affected by the pinging. Supermarkets expressed concern about supply chain shortages as a result of staff having to self-isolate, and many other retail and hospitality businesses are struggling to cope with absences.

The situation led to calls for the app to be either modified or scrapped. One leading epidemiologist believes it is no longer useful.

"People working in the NHS have been told to delete it ... I don't think the app saying someone might have passed [you] by in a supermarket is actually that useful any more," King's College's Prof Tim Spector told Sky News.

"Employers have got to use common sense in this. It seems to be overkill."

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is isolating, has urged the public to continue to self-isolate if pinged but confirmed that from August 16 the system would change to contact testing and not contact isolation.

Updated: July 22nd 2021, 1:42 PM