Bakkavor confirmed that 14 members of staff have tested positive for COVID-19, of which three have since exited isolation and returned to work.
In response, the manufacturer has implemented further measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 at the site, as well as support the workers affected by the disease.
Bakkavor has also implemented a socially distanced bus service – staff must wear face coverings and sit two metres apart – to reduce car sharing between employees travelling between Swindon and Devizes. This follows local press reports suggesting the spread of the virus may be linked to staff socialising outside work or sharing vehicles or buses to and from work, rather than conditions in factories.
Bakkavor has also agreed to ‘top-up’ payment to full basic pay for workers confirmed as having the virus or self-isolating during the current outbreak period.
Additional measures in place
Business director Shona Taylor said: “We hope that these additional measures demonstrate that we recognise the financial burden our colleagues may face whilst having to self-isolate during this outbreak and that we are actively working to minimise the spread of the virus by providing this transport option.
“We are continuing to work closely with Public Health to ensure we are doing everything possible as a business for our colleagues and to help control the spread of the virus within the community.”
Wiltshire Council public health consultant Rachel Kent hoped the act of topping off staff pay would incentivise employees to stay home should they need arise and urged Bakkavor’s staff to utilise the new bus service to help limit the spread of COVID-19 both in the factory and the local area.
“This positive action will ensure that employees can follow guidance without worrying about lost income which will help stop the transmission of the virus,” she added.
“The most important thing everyone can do is to continue to observe social distancing guidelines and practice good hand hygiene to help stop the spread of the virus.”
Pladis workers contract COVID-19
Shift workers at Pladis’ factory in South Wigston, Leicestershire have tested positive for COVID-19, the same site that reported a number of cases of the disease last month.
A spokesman for the company said it had been working closely with local authorities and Public Health England (PHE) to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have been actively engaging with local health authorities who are confident that that our site is taking every measure to ensure robust hygiene and social distancing measures are in place,” said the spokesman.
“We will continue to work closely with local authorities and follow all guidance laid out by the Government.”
Reports of new cases at the factory come in spite of a raft of measures taken by Pladis since March, including the implementation of screens, signage to encourage social distancing on site and the reduction of some lines to limit the number of people needed on the shop floor. A comprehensive list of measures can be found in the box below.
Meanwhile, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed an investigation has been launched into a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to the 2 Sisters site in Coupar Angus.
Up to four cases have been confirmed in the cluster and the plant's owners have closed the facility, according to BBC News. A letter sent to staff and seen by Twitter user Dave Muir said production was suspended from today (17 August) with a consultation launched with workers union Unite during the period.
Pladis hygiene and social distancing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19
- Investment in screening and social distancing measures, including plastic barriers
- Signage across the site from entry to exit to remind our colleagues of social distancing
- Staggering start times to avoid crowds of colleagues arriving at the same time
- Significantly increased the number of hand sanitisers throughout the site
- Enhanced cleaning taking place throughout the site, with a focus on key touchpoints and weekend closure for deep cleaning
- Some production lines have been reduced to ‘half-lines’ to enable social distancing
- Regular employee communications in line with government advice and guidelines, including advising employees of all local testing facilities and the process for arranging a test
- All are instructed not to enter the site if they have any symptoms. Pladis employees who are self-isolating receive full pay to ensure they feel no pressure to be at the site while unwell.
- Face coverings have been made available to all
- Opening four pop-up canteens to ensure social distancing
- Cancelling all non-essential meetings and visitors from the site