BUSINESS owners have spoken of their 'heartbreak and devastation' at having to close after staff were 'pinged' by the NHS Test and Trace app and forced to isolate.

After 16 months of uncertainty and restrictions on hospitality venues, business owners were only finally able to fully reopen two weeks ago. But a number of Weymouth venues have already been forced to close their doors again due to staff shortages caused by large numbers being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app - referred to as the 'pingdemic'.

During what should be the busiest time of the year for Weymouth hospitality venues as tourists flock to the south coast to enjoy a UK holiday, business owners are counting the costs after being forced to turn away customers.

Beth Worthington, co-owner of The Galley Bistro, was forced to shut last weekend when several of her front of house staff were 'pinged'. She then reopened last Wednesday before two of her chefs were told to isolate by the app on Friday, meaning the restaurant could only run a limited menu over the weekend.

Beth said: "It's heartbreaking being closed and having to run a limited service. We have been here for 17 years and we have always been open seven days a week but now we are down to five days a week because we don't have enough staff.

"We haven't been able to have a proper summer weekend yet and will have lost money."

Custom House Café, The Globe Inn and Billy Winters have also closed their doors until further notice after staff members were 'pinged', in a 'massive blow' to business.

On Friday, a spokesman for Custom House Café said: "We will be closed tomorrow onwards until we are safe to open due to staff members being 'pinged' and having to self-isolate.

"This is a massive blow to us and we hope to open as quickly as possible."

After three staff members were 'pinged' on Saturday, The Globe Inn announced they would be closing until further notice. A spokesman said: "Three members of staff got pinged and told to self-isolate so regrettably, but understandably, we have had to shut the pub until further notice.

"We all test regularly and all have been negative so far but needs must."

Performances at Weymouth Pavilion during the next week have been rescheduled after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19.