Bristol Waste currently has 28 collection staff in self-isolation, after either testing positive for the virus or being in close contact with someone who has. This represents 10% of the front-line workforce.
Bristol Waste and Bristol City Council are doing everything possible to minimise disruption to collections, including enabling overtime, moving drivers from other areas of the business to work on collections, redeploying office staff to support the frontline, and asking city partners to lend driving staff.
To allow Bristol Waste to try and maintain essential waste and recycling services, garden waste collections will have to be suspended for ten weeks and missed garden waste collections are unable to be collected.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “The unlocking of the country and the self-isolation policy is unavoidably affecting our waste collection. We are doing everything we can to reduce the disruption to people across Bristol, as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the city.
“We understand that everyone has had enough of the pandemic impacting on their daily lives and this is yet another unwanted consequence.
“Of course, staff have to follow the current government isolation rules and this has left us with a significant shortage of drivers, which in turn has an impact on the service we can deliver.
“I would like to offer thanks to all the Bristol Waste staff who are picking up extra responsibilities. I would also like to thank everyone in Bristol for their patience. Please do bear with us as we negotiate this difficult period.”
An interim solution is being put in place for garden waste subscribers which will be available in the next few days.
However, the situation is likely to continue over the coming weeks due to a combination of factors, including the transmissibility of the Delta variant and the lifting of lockdown restrictions. This means further disruptions to services is possible.
Jason Eldridge, Service Delivery Director at Bristol Waste, said: "Our crews are working exceptionally hard to keep essential waste and recycling services running despite a national driver shortage coinciding with a spike in staff needing to self-isolate due to contact tracing.
“Thank you to everyone in Bristol for their patience and understanding as we continue to tackle the challenges presented by the pandemic. Please treat our crews with respect and continue to sort your bins and boxes ready for collection."