Boss of Deeside based Iceland: “revisit onerous self isolation rules, seven days is a long time”
The boss of Deeside based Iceland has said people who test positive for Covid and are tripled jabbed Covid should be allowed to use their own “fair judgement” around self-isolation and not stick to the current seven-day rules.
Speaking to Sky News, Richard Walker said around 11 to 12% of Iceland’s 30,000 strong workforce are currently absent from work due to Covid and self-isolation.
According to reports, the UK government is expected to make changes to testing rules in England today, meaning those who test positive on lateral flow tests will no longer need a follow-up PCR to begin their isolation period if they do not have symptoms. It’s unknown if Wales would follow the same rule change.
Iceland has around 900 stores across the UK, Mr Walker said absence levels are now at their highest since the beginning of the pandemic, “it’s actually more than double last year’s peak.” He said.
Mr Walker said the absenteeism graph “is almost vertical, I think it’s fair to say that UK business is under strain as never before.
“This new variant seems to be a lot more contagious and obviously that’s having a big impact – given the isolation rules that we currently have – on being able to run our shops.”
He said, “we’re managing, we’re very well stocked, we’ve got a deep pool of labour and we are keeping on all of the seasonal workers that we hired over Christmas, but we’re having to stay very agile.”
“We have some more senior area managers running shops, we had to close some stores on New Year’s Day to make sure that we prioritise other stores nearby where there was higher customer demand.” He said.
The Iceland boss said the UK can’t continue to shut down entire workforces and economies “mainly for the benefit of unvaccinated people.”
He has called on the UK government to prioritise lateral flow tests for key workers, “including food retail frontline shop workers.”
He has also called for a “revisit the onerous self-isolation rules, seven days is a long time for people who are triple jabbed when the symptoms for the vast majority of people nothing more than a common cold or, or mild flu.” He said.
“If you’re triple jabbed I think you should be allowed to use your fair judgement, we need to as quickly as we can, get to a world where people stay at home if they feel ill like they do when they have flu and return to work when they feel better.”
“That’s how we’re going to get out of this…ultimately we need to get rid of the isolation period altogether.”
The self-isolation period for those with Covid symptoms reduced in Wales last week from 10 to 7 days on basis of two negative lateral flow tests taken on days six and seven
More here: https://gov.wales/self-isolation
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