Following the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), IGD is working closely with the UK Government and the food industry. Here is a summary of some of the key developments we have picked up.
The government has announced measures to tackle an increase in COVID-19 cases in Leicester. This includes delaying both the reopening of the hospitality sector due to take place 4 July and the relaxation of shielding measures due on the 6 July in this region. Non-essential retail and schools will also have to close (see LINK). Defra is encouraging the food industry in Leicester to continue operating as they did under national lockdown conditions.
COVID-19 outbreaks in food production facilities
Following a small number of outbreaks in food production plants, concerns have been raised, and clarity is being sought, about the role and authority of various agencies. Public Health England (PHE) is working with the Food Standards Agency, The Health and Safety Executive and Environmental Health to ensure appropriate measures are put in place where there are multiple positive tests at food factories and plants.
PHE is working on producing standard operating procedures to help ensure there is a process to follow for dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19 in food production factories.
Defra has also put together a task force with PHE, FSA and HSE that will meet frequently to take stock of the situation and to ensure guidance is being followed to ensure there are no unnecessary closures of food factories and plants.
Concerns have been raised by the meat industry about ensuring the food supply chain and animal welfare standards are not impacted by any outbreak of cases.
New guidance for food businesses has been published that takes into consideration factors in recent outbreaks. See this LINK. This will be updated fortnightly.
Test and trace
The food industry is working with Defra, PHE and NHSX to ensure test and trace guidance is up to date and considers working practices in communal areas (e.g. toilets, canteens and locker areas).
Concerns about guidance being applied incorrectly by contact tracers should be escalated to Local Health Protection Teams (see LINK). These teams are available 24 hours seven days a week. This process is reported to be working well, with greater central coordination from Public Health England (PHE).
See this LINK for full details of how the Test and Trace works
See this LINK for guidance for NHS test and trace: workplace guidance
Changes to social distancing guidance
Following the government announcement last week of changes to social distancing guidance, this has been reflected in updated BEIS guidance for working safely during COVID-19.
See LINK for updated guidance for shops and branches. Further guidance has also been issued for vehicles (see LINK) and factories, plants and warehouses (see LINK).
Trading conditions and supply chain
Availability is reported to be good, with fresh and frozen product availability largely returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. However, there are reports of a small number of outstanding issues with the supply of some long-life products, including condiments, beers, cleaning wipes and home baking products.