Supermarkets face inventory pressure due to workers’ self-isolation

Supermarkets are facing “increasing pressure” to keep shelves adequate, and retail industry leaders warn that the increasing damage caused by the “epidemic” is still continuing Forcing thousands of workers to self-isolate.

Due to shortages of stores in some areas, companies in industries such as gas stations and postal services are affected by absenteeism. The government is being urged to include supermarket employees, truck drivers and other frontline workers on the list of exemptions from the self-isolation rule.

The government announced that certain industries will be able to apply for employee exemptions, allowing key workers who have been “pinged” by the NHS test and tracking app to return to work and undergo daily lateral flow tests after PCR tests, instead of self-isolating for 10 days.

Empty shelves in a cooperative store. Photo: @HapG86/PA

But it has not announced the list of which departments can participate in the plan, nor will it have a list of key workers who are exempt from automatic self-isolation; instead, it will consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

As the number of people expected to be exempted is relatively small, bosses are worried and frustrated that thousands of workers will continue to self-isolate when notified.

Andrew Oppi, the food director of the British Retail Association’s trade agency, said the staff shortage may affect business hours and shelf stacking.

“The ongoing’epidemic’ puts increasing pressure on retailers’ ability to maintain business hours and maintain shelf inventory. The government needs to act quickly,” Opi said. “Retail workers and suppliers who have played an important role throughout the pandemic should be allowed to work, provided that they have been double-vaccinated or tested negative for Covid to ensure that the public’s ability to access food and other goods will not be disturbed.”

Grocery chain Iceland Plans to recruit 2,000 spare employees to help solve the problem of absenteeism. The retailer said that because employees received notifications from the NHS testing and tracking applications, resulting in a shortage of employees, they were forced to shorten business hours and even closed some stores.

The head of Iceland, Richard Walker (Richard Walker) said that after more than 1,000 employees (just over 3% of the organization’s total) were asked to self-quarantine after being pinged by the app, a few stores were forced to close.

He said the problem was fragmented-some stores had much higher vacancy rates than others-and the number of people who had to be quarantined “increased by about 50% every week, which is really worrying.”

Walker called on the government to urgently adjust the application or self-isolation rules before the planned changes on August 16. “Supermarkets need to focus on supporting the family, rather than writing to the government,” he said. He said about 96% of those who raised the alarm for the NHS app working in Iceland did not test positive for Covid-19.

There are also reports on social media that supermarkets in some areas are experiencing shortages of basic supplies such as milk, eggs, bread and rice.

Tesco stated that the bottled water in its warehouses had been used up, while Co-op stated that “due to the impact of the Covid/colleague quarantine”, the supply of “most” of its stores was interrupted.

A spokesperson said: “This is a short-term but significant impact that has affected our ability to supply stores. These issues are affecting the vast majority of Co-op stores.”

The “Daily Telegraph” also reported that police forces across the country have been affected. In Dorset, one-third of control room workers stopped work after being pinged or tested positive for Covid.

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner warned the public that it expects longer response times to calls. He said: “We suddenly found ourselves canceling rest days and vacations, and transferred staff from other shifts to make up for our gap. However, our call time will increase, and we will miss some calls that we usually answer. Because our call center is less flexible.”

The warning came when the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) stated that even if they were not affected by the epidemic, some factories have been affected by a staff shortage of up to 16%.

“in Potential worker shortage, We also heard from some members that 5% to 10% of their employees are [health service] The application does not require self-isolation,” said BMPA CEO Nick Allen.

He said that the shortage of workers has affected meat products that require more labor to produce, which means that these production lines will be cut off first.

The problem of self-isolation will only exacerbate the shortage of delivery workers, especially the shortage of heavy truck drivers, which is caused by Brexit, the new crown pneumonia and changes in tax rules.

BP stated that the industry-wide shortage of truck drivers has caused temporary fuel supply problems, resulting in the temporary closure of “a handful” of its UK factories. The oil giant’s supply chain was also affected by the closure of the fuel distribution terminal due to the Covid quarantine among employees last week.

However, BP told the BBC that “the vast majority” of shortages are “solved within a day”.

Royal Mail stated that in a “limited number of areas”, services were interrupted due to Covid-related absences.

Major retailers said that the current absenteeism rate is about 10%, which is much lower than the peak of the pandemic last spring, but because certain stores and product categories are more affected, they are difficult to manage.

Absence rates in some stores are as high as 30%, with the northeast and northwest of England being the most affected, while major deliveries in certain areas of the country have also been affected.

The sudden heat wave has led to a surge in demand for fresh fruits, salads and other hot weather staples, and has also increased difficulties. Due to the difficulty of the delivery system to keep up, the unusually high demand in the resort area has also led to shortages.

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About the Author: Agnes Zang