Tube lines suspended and partly closed as staff 'pinged' by Covid app

Metropolitan Tube line is SUSPENDED and Piccadilly and District lines are partially closed due to shortage of control room staff after they were ‘pinged’ by NHS Covid app

  • ‘Pingdemic’ hits London Tube with at least two lines suspended until 9pm 
  • The Metropolitan Line is not running at all on Saturday due to staff shortage
  • Unions warned there would be ‘dire consequences’ due to staff being ‘pinged’

A London Tube line has been suspended and two others partially closed due to a staff shortage triggered by workers being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

The Metropolitan Line is not running today after control room staff received an alert from the app this morning telling them to stay at home.

Services on the Piccadilly and District line were also affected, with partial closures to last until at least 9pm.

It comes as industry bosses are warning that Britain faces food shortages with shops being closed early and bins not emptied for ten weeks if urgent action is not taken to address the so-called ‘pingdemic’.  

Richard Jones, London Underground’s head of network operations, said: ‘Due to a shortage of control room staff who are having to self-isolate following notification this morning via the Test and Trace app, there will be no service on the Metropolitan line for the rest of the day.

The Metropolitan line is suspended for rest of Saturday while the District and Piccadilly lines are partially closed until 9pm 

The mass disruption tot the Tube network came after control room staff were alerted by the NHS Covid app on Saturday morning

‘This will also impact the Piccadilly line with no service between South Harrow and Uxbridge and no service on the District line between High Street Kensington and Edgware.

‘Services are expected to resume on the Piccadilly and District lines at 9pm this evening.

‘We apologise to customers for the disruption. London Underground tickets will be accepted on local bus services.’

It comes as Londoners will be hoping to make the best of a glorious Saturday in the capital, with temperatures reaching highs of 83F – before climbing to as high as 89.6F tomorrow. 

The suspension to Tube services comes after warnings to the Government over a ‘surge’ in workers and medics being forced into self-isolation over coronavirus contacts when most restrictions end in England on Monday.

Transport unions have said there will be ‘dire consequences’ next week when staff are ‘pinged’ as the level of infections rise.

It comes after Transport for London (TfL) had to scramble to find cover on the day of the Euro 2020 final, after a staff shortage due to workers being ‘pinged’ risked the Bakerloo line having to be suspended an hour before kick-off. 

Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch previously warned that Monday ‘will see a surge in workers pinged with a self-isolation instruction next week’.

‘Even at this late stage, the Government, the train operators and the bus companies should issue a clear, legally backed instruction that levels up the rest of the UK to the safety standards that will remain in force in Wales and Scotland,’ he said.

Around 1.8million people were asked to self-isolate last week in England, data suggests. That includes 194,000 people who tested positive, 520,000 who were ‘pinged’ by the app, almost 340,000 who were contacted directly by Test and Trace, and 750,000 schoolchildren 

Elsewhere in the country, passengers were warned of alterations on some Northern routes this weekend due to a number of front-line staff either testing positive for Covid-19 or having to self-isolate.

According to the National Rail Enquiries website, trains may be cancelled in both directions on services connecting Huddersfield, Sheffield and Lincoln, Sheffield with Leeds, Retford and York and between Leeds and Doncaster.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Trains warned yesterday that the number of staff having to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app had ‘quadrupled’ in recent weeks, leading to ‘trains being cancelled at short notice and fewer carriages being available on some services’.

The Metropolitan Line suspension in London today came as Wembley Stadium, near to Wembley Park station on the north-west section of the line, prepared to host thousands of fans for the rugby league Challenge Cup final at 3pm.

The station is also serviced by the Jubilee line which was still running, while Wembley Stadium and Wembley Central stations are also near the ground. 

It follows estimates which suggest the UK economy is expected to be hit by £4billion in losses after it reopens fully on Monday’s ‘Freedom Day’ because workers are being forced to stay at home after being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app.

Marks and Spencer said it will be forced to reduce its opening hours and because of the sheer number of staff told to remain at home after coming into contact with an infected person. 

Staff shortages at ports and in the meat industry mean supermarket shelves could be left empty, with supply chains badly affected 

The number of alerts sent out in relation to venues also more than doubled in seven days

And Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, today claimed the app needs to be changed, adding that a quarter of junior doctors are currently in isolation.

Ministers have said the lifting of restrictions on Monday is likely to push daily infections to more than 100,000, which could force around half a million a day to self-isolate. 

Analysis by MailOnline suggests that in a worst-case scenario around six million adults could be in isolation by the end of the month. 

Britain’s daily infection toll breached 50,000 yesterday for the first time since January. Anyone who tests positive is told to self-isolate and has their contacts traced. 

But because the Bluetooth phone app ‘pings’ all those who have been in close contact with positive cases, the number of people self-isolating at home at any one time is far higher.

Unlike those people contacted by phone, it is not a legal requirement to self-isolate after being pinged by the app. But Downing Street today made it clear it expects people to do so. 

It raises the prospect of the economy grinding to a halt due to a chronic lack of available workers, even after the lockdown is supposed to have ended . 

Business leaders and trade unionists from across all sector of the economy lined up to warn the Government that a major rethink is needed, because the current situation is not sustainable. 

A fifth of all private sector workers are currently having to self-isolate, according to industrial analysis.  

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