Australian supermarkets are feeling the strain of the east coast Covid-19 outbreaks, as thousands of staff have been forced to isolate. Coles’ chief operations officer, Matthew Swindells, has stated that at last count, 1,800 staff in New South Wales were in isolation and 1,200 more in Victoria, confirming localised disruptions to supply were now commonplace.
Swindells said that while measures like segregating the workforce into “Covid bubbles” were mitigating the worst of the disruptions, distribution centre teams were being taken out of action and that had the most direct effect on supply. Fortunately the shortages were generally short-lived, Swindells said.
“It moves quite quickly. We improved fresh food availability in NSW this week … but at the same time I know that there are 20 or so stores that, at a store level, got worse. And part of the challenge for the team is that could change again tomorrow. It’s a bit like supply chain whack-a-mole. But we just keep going,” he told theguardian.com.
Woolworths has also reported around 3,300 staff isolating and out of action, with CEO Brad Banducci stating in an email sent to all customers that employees were “feeling the impacts of Delta very directly”.