Pingdemic hits boroughs as bin collectors isolate due to ‘Covid reasons’

By James Mayer, local democracy reporter 

A number of bin men across South West London are self isolating.

In total, 13 bin men for Wandsworth and Richmond are off sick due to “Covid reasons” – the authorities have confirmed.

It comes as in Southfields bins were spotted overflowing with stinking rubbish, swarming with flies.

Both councils have not confirmed if bin collections will be affected.

Dozens of councils in England have faced delays to their bin collections due to staff self-isolating due to the NHS track and trace app ‘pinging’ them.

The trend has been dubbed the ‘pingdemic’ and is being blamed for food-shortages in supermarkets, Tube delays and even queues at Heathrow Airport.

A spokesperson for Serco, who are run the bin service for Wandsworth and Richmond councils said: “We currently have 13 employees across those two areas who are off work for Covid reasons.

“Clearly announcements from Government in the last 12 hours about sectors exempt from isolation will have an impact.”

A Local Government Association (LGA) spokesperson said many councils could possibly face “difficult decisions” if more staff are forced to stay home as they must prioritise services that “protect the most vulnerable”.

He said: “Councils know how important waste and recycling is to their residents and have been working hard throughout the pandemic to keep these services running as best as possible.

“Local authorities and their contractors have a duty of care to their employees and must adhere to government guidelines on self-isolating when staff show symptoms of COVID-19 or are in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

“While most councils have been able to keep services running, many could possibly face difficult decisions and must prioritise services designed to protect the most vulnerable in their communities.”

The issue is being seen across London, with Lewisham Council confirming delays to their bin collections have been impacted by the ‘pingdemic’.

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