Tesco shop workers will start getting tested for coronavirus

Tesco shop workers will start getting tested for coronavirus within days as supermarket says it will increase delivery slots to 1.2million a week

  • Tesco will begin to trial testing for its workers in one region of the UK soon
  • The supermarket said that around 41,000 of its staff are now absent each day
  • It said it has recruited more than 50,000 temporary workers to plug the gap 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Tesco has said its shop workers will start receiving coronavirus tests this week as the Government ramps up its testing efforts.

In a letter to customers, chief executive Dave Lewis said Tesco will begin to trial testing for its workers in one region of the UK.

It is understood the voluntary testing will be available for around 200 staff and comes after talks between supermarket bosses and the Government.

The supermarket added that the testing will only be ‘for critical workers currently experiencing symptoms or for those with symptoms who are living with critical workers’.

Tesco said that around 41,000 of its staff are absent each day, with the figure steadily falling.

The voluntary testing for Tesco employees will be available for around 200 staff and comes after talks between supermarket bosses and the Government

Tesco said that around 41,000 of its staff are absent each day, with the figure steadily falling (pictured, a shopper wears protection while at a Tesco supermarket)

It said it has recruited 50,000 temporary workers to plug the gap and keep operations running in recent weeks.

The supermarket has seen sales jump as shoppers have stocked up on essential items in the face of the virus, with demand for home deliveries surging.

Mr Lewis told customers that Tesco is offering almost one million delivery slots this week, following an increase of 400,000 slots in the past six weeks.

‘We’ll increase this to 1.2 million deliveries per week in the next few weeks,’ he added.

The supermarket also said it will donate £15m of food to community groups and food banks over the next 12 weeks, on top of its ongoing monthly donation of meals worth £3m.

Mr Lewis said: ‘None of what we’re doing would be possible without the support of our colleagues, or the patience and understanding of our customers.

‘There has been a huge amount of change in a very short time, and a lot for you and our colleagues to adjust to. Thank you once again for your support.’

The death toll from coronavirus in the UK hit 18,094 today. More than 120,000 have also been infected with the virus

There were huge queues at Tesco supermarket at the start of the coronavirus lockdown (pictured, a store in Osterley, London last month)

The news comes amid concerns about the safety of shopkeepers and supermarket staff during the coronavirus pandemic after a spate of deaths among workers.

The latest saw a member of staff at FreshGo in Gipsy Hill, south London, die following a spell in hospital.

The staff member, known only as Kumar, is believed to have worked alongside others at the convenience store, which is still open.

It is understood another staff member from the same store is also fighting the virus in a London hospital.

Concerned locals said the store – which is tiny and has narrow aisles – had failed to observe a ‘one in, one out’ policy and staff were given little protection.

A member of staff, known only as Kumar (above), who worked at FreshGo in Gipsy Hill, south London, has died from coronavirus. There are growing concerns about the safety of shop workers during the pandemic after a spate of deaths among those working in retail

Kumar died following a spell in hospital. He is understood to have worked alongside others at the convenience store (above), which is still open. Concerned locals said the store, which is tiny and has narrow aisles, failed to observe a ‘one in, one out’ policy and staff were given little protection

Above, a sign outside the FreshGo shop in Gipsy Hill offering support during coronavirus. It is understood another staff member from the same store is also fighting the virus in a London hospital

A JustGiving site has already raised almost £2,000 for the man’s family, with organiser Siobhann Carolan saying: ‘Kumar worked tirelessly for years at FreshGo and was liked by all the customers.

‘He was always helpful, cheerful and considerate at any time of the day or night. The funds raised will go directly to his family to help them through this truly difficult time.’

But other store users said they were upset more had not been done to limit the spread of the virus in the shop.

Jade Kyle said: ‘That is so sad. They’re all such good guys. I did wonder why they suddenly implemented social distancing in the shop only yesterday.’

Georgia Mancio said: ‘With this extra pressure on the smaller shops, I think they should all only allow one person in at a time.’

Sandra Schmidt added: ‘This is terrible. I’m actually in tears. My partner went in there four weeks ago and no one was wearing masks or gloves. 

There has been a glut of coronavirus deaths among shopkeepers and their staff. They include 51-year-old Raj Aggarwal – whose last Facebook post (above) showed him dropping off a carload of tea, coffee and biscuits to NHS workers at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester

‘My partner was the only one in there with mask and gloves and they all looked at him like he was deranged. Someone asked the man if they were intending to stay open and he said “We will always be open!”. We laughed at it then. That was the last time any of us went there.’

Kayleigh Louise Barnes replied: ‘To be fair all the men that work there have been in contact with him so they should be isolating but they’re still open which is a bit selfish considering they are serving the public.’

Jen Batchelor added: ‘They need to completely deep clean the shop and products and the other staff members should be self isolating.’

It comes after a glut of other deaths among shopkeepers and their staff.

They include Raj Aggarwal – whose last Facebook post showed him dropping off a carload of tea, coffee and biscuits to NHS workers at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

But just 13 days later, the father-of-two, 51, who ran two Spar shops and a coffee outlet with his brother Sanjiv, 50, lost his life.

Just 13 days after his Facebook post, Mr Aggarwal (above, with his wife, Sunita), a father-of-two who ran two Spar shops and a coffee outlet with his brother Sanjiv, 50, lost his life

On March 27 he posted on Facebook: ‘Next stop Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, dropping off Tea, Coffee and Biscuits for our frontline NHS staff who are doing an amazing job #strongertogether.’

Stuart Reddish, national president of the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), told MailOnline today: ‘We are deeply saddened to have lost four of our members from coronavirus and the Federation is doing everything it can to support their families at this time. 

‘Independent stores are at the heart of their communities and NFRN members, their family members and their staff are going above and beyond to provide their customers with the essentials that they need, whether this is from their shops or by offering delivery services to the elderly, vulnerable and housebound. 

‘In these most challenging of times, they are risking their own health and safety to provide communities and customers with a vital lifeline and I am tremendously proud of them.’

The NFRN has also launched a fund to help shopkeepers suffering hardship if they feel they cannot stay open.

The NFRN Covid-19 Hardship Fund has been created to alleviate some of the financial pressures that independent retailers may be facing.

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