Food distribution only in the retail trade included for the moment in the relaxation of the self-isolation rules of Covid-19 – COVID-19
On-site coronavirus testing is due to start next week in order to allow food business staff who have been pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app or called in by Test and Trace to continue working. But neither stores nor the entire retail supply chain are covered by the move, others are expected to continue to isolate themselves after contact with Covid-19 until August 16.
Workplaces that deemed critical in the food industry will be prioritized in the government’s deployment of priority test sites. It starts next week and is expected to include up to 500 sites in total, including major supermarket distribution centers, and up to 10,000 employees.
Those who work at named key sites will be able to continue working as long as they are tested every day. In a separate Critical Worker program, appointees in the food supply chain will be able to continue working when identified as contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, again, as long as ‘they are tested.
Health and Social Affairs Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Throughout this global pandemic, workers in our food and beverage sectors have overcome enormous challenges and have gone out of their way to keep our shelves fully stocked and our refrigerators full. As we manage this virus and do all we can to break the chains of transmission, daily contact testing of workers in this vital sector will help minimize the disruption caused by the increase in cases in the weeks to come, while ensuring that workers are not endangered. “
Corn Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said activating the supply chain will not be enough. The grocer and frozen food retailer is currently hiring an additional 2,000 people to give it a larger pool of workers and avoid store closures. He tweeted today: “The food supply chain only works if teams are in place at every step – no need to solve manufacturing and logistics issues if there is no one to put the products on. the shelves and serve customers. We need the government to take urgent action and add store workers to the list of exemptions. “
Some Icelandic stores have had to close due to the growing number of Covid-19 cases and associated self-isolations, and there are reports of both garages and fashion stores have to do the same. In the seven days leading up to yesterday 325,223 people tested positive, government figures show. The close contacts of all these people – and more – will always be self-isolating.
Oliver Guy, Director of Global Industry, IoT Platform Retail and Enterprise Integration Specialist Software AG, says the shift to in-store retail shown in today’s ONS figures may be short-lived as more people are being asked to self-isolate, and there may well be have a step back towards online shopping. He says: “We can anticipate that the current surge in in-store purchases may well be temporary, impacted by the current ‘pingemia’. As some stores have been forced to shut down due to staff shortages, footfall is expected as consumers return to online shopping during isolation. “
Jessica McGoverne, Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs at the Supply Chain Organization Sedexsays the so-called “pingemia” is a reminder of how complex and fragile supply chains are – and what the ripple effects are when they are disrupted.
“Unsurprisingly, it is often the most vulnerable workers – such as those who operate through informal work situations with zero hour contracts – who suffer the most. Workers in precarious jobs typically have little or no financial buffers, jobs they can’t do from home while isolating themselves, and a fear of losing their jobs if they don’t continue to work. Their employment status means they are unlikely to receive benefits such as sick pay and are forced to make difficult and risky decisions.
“So employers need to act responsibly, understand where their most vulnerable workers are, so they can take action to support those workers accordingly. They must now conduct risk assessments and have a clear approach to worker policies, such as how they support each worker who receives the isolation notification. We know that employers find the advice that governments and local authorities can offer on this matter extremely helpful.
“It’s an extremely difficult situation for companies, but without the right support, individuals who are told to self-isolate can put their own health or that of their colleagues at risk by continuing to come to work. Organizations may also need to recruit already overworked employees to cover absences, a step that comes with increased risks related to excessive working hours, as well as health and safety.