ONE hundred customers had their bookings cancelled after a chef was ‘pinged’ by the NHS Test and Trace service and told to self-isolate.

The diners had been due to eat at Urban Garden in Bournemouth town centre.

Owner Mark Cribb also said that Urban Reef in Boscombe was operating reduced hours on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays due to staff shortages.

Mr Cribb said the issue of employees being told to isolate was adding to the pressure caused by staff shortages in the hospitality industry.

He said: “The biggest issue is the general shortage and the ‘pings’ do not help.

“It's more of inconvenience for the customer than anything, but it's heart-breaking.”

Mr Cribb told the Echo closing for one day can cost the business up to £15,000 during the summer months.

He believes it's a wasted “opportunity to show off the town” with so many people holidaying in the UK this year.

The business owner questioned whether the millions of people currently still being furloughed could be allocated to help out the hospitality industry.

He added: “Many people who would usually work on cruise ships or on airlines (and other similar roles) are still furloughed, what are they doing?

“We have a young team who are excited they can go out now and rightly so.

“As a business we’re concerned, if they catch it they have to call in and self-isolate when they’re are already issues (with staff numbers).

“It would be a catastrophe to close in August, but we’ve just got to suck it up as much as it is heart-breaking.”

Mr Cribb stated the Government could do a better job to “help emphasise the industry” to encourage people to work in the hospitality sector; addressing the shortage.

Even though his sector faces many challenges with existing staff shortages and the looming threat of the so-called ‘pingdemic’ it’s a much better place to be than a few months ao.

He added: “Overall I’m very positive the sun's out in one of the best towns in the country.

“It's challenging but not as much as when we were shut down (during the pandemic).”