THE ‘pingdemic’ continued to hit York businesses yesterday as ‘Freedom Day’ arrived - but there were signs that some customers were leaving their masks off when shopping.

The city’s newest restaurant, Nola, situated in the former Rustique restaurant in Lendal, has been forced to close after staff were ‘pinged’ and had to self-isolate - less than a week after it opened its doors.

Signs stated yesterday: “Unfortunately, due to staff self-isolating, Nola will be closed until Thursday July 22.”

The signs apologised for the inconvenience caused, and thanked people for their custom in its opening week, and said Nola looked forward to welcoming them when it reopened.The restaurant is just the latest in a series of York hospitality businesses to be forced to close because of staff having to self isolate.

But Pete Pendlebury, landlord of the Red Lion in Merchantgate, yesterday removed signs outside the pub which outlined its former social distancing rules.

York confectioner Nestlé has also been affected by the pingdemic.A spokeswoman said yesterday that its absence rates were increasing as more employees were asked to isolate because of contacts they had had outside of the workplace.

“It is something we are monitoring very closely and we are doing all we can to continue our operations as normal despite the disruption.

“We are making some alterations to our production planning to accommodate the increased levels of absence and will continue to make further changes where required.

“Strict health and safety measures in our factories, offices and boutiques mean that workplace transmission and exposure is not driving absence rates.”

Meanwhile, a snapshot survey by The Press of 50 customers leaving the Tesco convenience store in Piccadilly last Thursday and again yesterday suggested the relaxation of legal rules has resulted in some abandoning their masks.

Last week, 47 out of 50 shoppers covered their faces but yesterday, only 39 did, with 11 shoppers without any facial covering. One shopper without a mask said it was because of the changed rules but said he would wear a mask again if shops were busy.