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Isolating staff may cause Melbourne supermarkets to close this weekend

A number of supermarkets across Melbourne may be forced to close this weekend after thousands of staff members have been placed in Covid-19 isolation.

According to a report in AFR, representatives from Coles and Woolworths have been in meetings with health officials to remedy the situation but the Victorian Government “believed the supermarkets were bluffing”.

When asked at the daily press conference about the potential of supermarket closures, premier Daniel Andrews said he had spoken to supermarket CEOs but hadn’t received a call about the issue at hand.

A Woolworths representative told Inside Retail the business has over 1,000 staff members in isolation in Victoria who have all tested negative for Covid, putting a strain on the business’ operations.

According to the supermarket it has 24 stores listed as Tier 1 exposure sites, has already closed one store, and is at risk of closing another five stores this weekend due to staff shortages.

Coles is in a similar boat. A Coles spokesperson told Inside Retail as cases rise in the state more stores will inevitably need to close, and that an approach similar to NSW could be implemented in order to protect the state’s food supply.

“The NSW government has amended isolation protocols so that fully vaccinated workers in essential service industries are generally not required to isolate as a result of casual contact,” the spokesperson said.

“The supermarket sector has jointly proposed a similar model to the Victorian and other state governments to ensure our stores can remain open to supply Australians with essential food.”

Metcash confirmed to AFR their sites are unaffected and will remain open this weekend as per usual.

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