Stores in jeopardy if staff to isolate
AUSTRALIA’S $100bn supermarket sector could begin shutting down stores across Melbourne this weekend as Woolworths, Coles and Aldi plead with the Victorian government to ease isolation rules for staff at exposed sites.
Woolworths is at risk of closing up to five stores at the weekend, due to staff shortages associated with the isolation requirements. Its Coburg store was closed on Wednesday.
A Woolworths spokesman said it had more than 1000 Victorian team members in isolation at present and it was putting a strain on operations.
“A small number of stores have been forced to reduce their trading hours and one has temporarily closed,” he said. “Making some sensible, risk-based adjustments to contract tracing would go a long way in helping us maintain essential supply and service to the Victoria community.
“We’ll continue to work closely with the Victorian government on these matters.”
Woolworths and staunch rival Coles are concerned they might need to close more stores this weekend to cope with a huge staff shortage.
Supermarkets are being forced to send entire store shifts home for extended isolation when a Covid-19 infected person enters the store, creating major holes in rosters. Some supermarkets have already cut hours.
Retail executives have told the Australian Business Network that the issue is compounded when another infected person with Covid-19 enters the supermarket on a second day, which then forces the “B Team” to also go into isolation. This has left the chains thousands of staff short and unable to operate.
The nation’s biggest supermarket chain, Woolworths, has had more than 25,000 instances where team members have been required to isolate in Victoria over the past three months. None of these team members have gone on to test positive for Covid-19.
The retailers are now calling on the Victorian government to ease isolation rules that force all staff working in a store into home isolation.