Omicron shortages and daily testing - how Covid is impacting businesses

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A wholesaler in Gloucestershire has introduced daily Covid testing for workers amid pressure on staffing levels.

The Government has brought in mandatory daily testing for key workers in a bid to tackle the disruption being caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

But it is not only businesses with key workers which are being affected by staff shortages.

Creed Foodservice is a wholesaler based in Staverton, near Cheltenham, providing food to schools, care homes and other businesses.

Last week, one in 10 of its workers were unable to work because they were isolating with Covid-19.

The daily struggle with staffing numbers means workers are now being asked to take a lateral flow test daily.

The firm's people director Martin Holmes told ITV News a lack of drivers meant they could not have managed all of their deliveries - which includes nursing homes - without the help of agency drivers.

"Turning up every day and wondering what the challenge is has been an ongoing problem for the past two years - and particularly now, because clearly if we get too many in one area it's going to really impact on our business."

The business has been living through lean times. When the pandemic hit, it closed other than to supply care homes during the first lockdown and 100 people were made redundant.

Now staffing levels are back to what they were before the pandemic, with 390 people working across three sites - but with that runs the risk of more people catching Covid.

Rachael Martin, Butchery Administrator at Creed Foodservice

Despite the company keeping it stock level up by 30 per cent so it can always supply to its customers, the reality is that if a significant part of the workforce is affected by Covid it could bring the supply chain to a halt.

This morning a staff member tested positive on a lateral flow test and because of a change in Government isolation guidance they could potentially be back at work in a week - if they test negative on day six and day seven.

Although staff at the firm are not classed as key workers, they have have been testing at least once a week. 

From today, the company hopes employees will test even more regularly.

Rachael Martin, Butchery Administrator said: "We are encouraging them to test daily because we have had a few cases within the department and we can't separate the team because if one of us gets it potentially the whole team could be out."