'It seems to be a new normal' - 'Pingdemic' forces barbers to close

MR Barbers in Diss and Stowmarket have had to shut after staff were pinged by the NHS Covid-19 ap.

MR Barbers in Diss and Stowmarket have had to shut after staff were pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app to self-isolate for 10 days. - Credit: Tom Old

Staff at a barbershop in Diss are among those affected by the 'pingdemic' after the business was forced to close.

MR Barbers in Diss and Stowmarket have had to shut after staff were pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app to self-isolate for 10 days.

MR Barbers in Diss and Stowmarket have had to shut after staff were pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app.

MR Barbers in Diss and Stowmarket have had to shut after staff were pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app to self-isolate for 10 days. - Credit: Tom Old

Tom Old, 31, who runs both shops, said the Diss barbershop opened during the pandemic in September 2020 and that he hoped things would "go back to how it was" with no more lockdowns.

But, he said the business has had to close a few times, with the first just after Christmas, with closing and reopening seeming to be "a new normal."

Tom Old (left) with his business partner Mark Lovell.

Tom Old (left) with his business partner Mark Lovell. - Credit: Tom Old

He said: "We reopened in April and have been absolutely fine since. But having the pinging the other day was a kick in the teeth really, it's a shame but you have to follow the rules so it is what it is.

"It's a bit of a pain, considering we've had to close a few times and it's a new business. We're just trying to establish it and make it become busy and every time we get a few steps ahead it seems to be as many more back."

The 31-year-old said they  have tried to be as organised as they can by keeping the shops clean and by operating under an appointment system which is "safer", with customers able to book on the MR Barber website and app.

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He said: "We go down all these routes hoping things are going to be fine but essentially you end up with the same outcome it seems."

Three staff members from the Diss shop are having to self-isolate, and four in Stowmarket.

"It's a bit of a kick, considering they've had eight to nine months off already in the last 18 months", Mr Old said.

"It's the same procedure we've gone through previously with closing and reopening.

"Unfortunately it's turning into a regular thing now, which none of us thought it would be. It seems to be a new normal the closing down, cleaning up, making everything tidy and then having to reopen.

"It's sad really, but we're not the only ones to suffer from it."

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