The COVID-19 supermarket problem ‘we just have to address’
The chief operating officer of one of Australia’s major supermarkets says the isolation rules for workers need urgent reassessment.
There are currently 3000 Coles staff isolating in Victoria and NSW.
Coles chief operating officer Matt Swindells says there’s a mismatch between restriction easing and isolation requirements, and it’ll only get worse as reopening progresses.
“We’ve got a new norm approaching with high levels of vaccination and restrictions lifting but we’ve got old protocols on team member isolation and the two don’t match,” he told Neil Mitchell.
“What you end up with is lots of people being told to stay at home for 14 days and that results in team member shortages.”
Last week was the “most difficult” week yet for Coles in Victoria, with 1200 workers in isolation, 37 stores significantly disrupted and 22 experiencing minor to moderate disruptions.
Mr Swindells says 30,000 Coles workers have been put into isolation in the past three months, but none have tested positive.
“The number of team members being put into isolation is not reflective of the risk,” he said.
Coles is calling for the introduction of similar protocols to those in place last year, which allowed the supermarket to do contact tracing to see who a positive team member has come into contact with, rather than a blanket isolation rule.
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