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Tesco defends policy on vulnerable workers after coronavirus cases

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A Lynn supermarket has insisted it has followed Government guidelines after family members claim vulnerable workers were forced to work.

The Tesco Extra store on Hardwick Road confirmed a small number of workers tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week.

The Lynn News has been contacted by family members of workers at the Hardwick Retail Park store due to concerns over the virus.

A small number of workers have tested positive for coronavirus at Tesco Extra on Lynn's Hardwick Retail Park
A small number of workers have tested positive for coronavirus at Tesco Extra on Lynn's Hardwick Retail Park

They said staff were told to go into work even though they were vulnerable to coronavirus.

One man said his partner is still having chemotherapy for her breast cancer having been diagnosed in June 2019, but was made to work and subsequently tested positive for coronavirus last week.

He said: "I thought it was disgraceful and a low duty of care for her. She has been very poorly and is living downstairs while I have been upstairs. We are trying to keep out of each others way."

A spokesman for Tesco said many extremely clinically vulnerable and clinically vulnerable colleagues began to return to work in June after independent occupational health assessments.

However, the partner believes the affected worker was advised not to go to Tesco by occupational health services.

Tesco emphasised there are a number of safety measures across all of its stores to help keep everyone safe, including protective screens at every checkout, social distancing signage and regular cleaning.

However, a number of workers and family members contacted the Lynn News disputing this statement.

Two claimed Tesco is not taking the necessary precautions with face masks being removed by managers and workers overnight.

Another anonymous man, who has four family members working at the store, said they were asked to go into work before lockdown even though people had tested positive in the same households.

The family member said: “They are completely dismissive of Covid and are not taking it seriously when people have tested positive in the household and should be isolating.

“There is not a very nice atmosphere for anyone to be working in. My dad is well over 70 and it could be potentially very serious.”

The Tesco spokesman said : “We have been following all Government guidelines and have introduced additional measures to help keep our colleagues safe at work.

“Given recent developments, we have now asked all extremely clinically vulnerable colleagues and clinically vulnerable colleagues who have been deemed higher risk not to come to work from November 5 to December 2.

"These colleagues will be paid in full and we will review the situation throughout November in advance of December 2.”

Tesco policy states colleague should be treated individually, depending on their circumstances, and where needed, adjustments will be made to their role or working conditions to ensure they can come back to work safely.

With new national lockdown restrictions coming into place from November 5, the government is advising clinically vulnerable people to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend essential health appointments.

Household members who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves can still attend work if they cannot work from home, in line with the restrictions.

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