Farmers and growers have expressed frustration that they do not have clarity about plans to exempt key staff from the need to isolate after being notified by the NHS Track and trace app.
“I think there’s real frustration that at the moment we don’t know exactly what it means for our members and their businesses,” said Tom Bradshaw, vice-president of the National Farmers’ Union. “And if you’re looking at trying to secure continuity of supply right the way through, then you have to look at all parts of that supply chain, and not just think about the processing facilities further up the supply chain. The peas in the field don’t know whether it’s 16 August or 22 July, so when they’re ready to harvest we’ve got to be able to harvest them, and unfortunately we have got businesses now that are under real pressure because people are having to self-isolate.”
Writing on the company’s blog, Robert Oldershaw of onion suppliers Oldershaw group said, “Too little too late seems a like a phrase thrown around about the Government regarding our industry all too often lately. Sadly, the latest initiative released this evening where 16 sectors, including food production, have been chosen to make exemptions from isolation for workers who have been fully vaccinated is another one of those examples. It sounds like a great headline, however reading the small print, we find that businesses have to apply to their relevant Government department and the exemption will only apply to a “limited number of named workers.”
He also warned that, The current labour shortage cuts much deeper than the imminent “pingdemic.” Already the industry is becoming crippled under the strain of staff taking holidays they couldn’t take last year due to lock down, the Immigration Rights of European Nationals which took effect on 1st July along with Covid related absence which is set to return to the levels from the beginning of the year as national and local positive cases continue to rise.
Photo source: NHS