Store staff hit by virus: work done in crisis has been superb

by Colin Campbell

TWO members of staff at two separate Tesco stores in Inverness have tested positive for the virus.

Inverness store staff have done an exceptional job during the pandemic.

Are they the first to be struck by it? They’re the first I’ve heard of.

The absence of virus infections among store staff has been reassuring for those who work there but often in a socially distanced checkout queue I’ve thought of the potential vulnerability of those sitting all day behind those rather flimsy glass screens.

Distancing rules apply to customers and are supposed to be firmly adhered to. But most store staff, and particularly checkout operators, are afforded no such protection.

Hour after hour, day after day, they are dealing with a constant stream of customers at very close quarters. When these screens first went up the general view among supermarket staff was that the barriers at Co-op stores offered the most protection. The others, with gaps, sometimes large gaps, built into them were hardly bulletproof virus protectors in any shape or form.

Now there have been calls for store staff to be given some degree of priority in vaccination.

Trapped in another lockdown, supermarkets are the last bastion of normality.

And over the past 10 months I haven’t come across a case of heavy-handed behaviour from a bossy member of staff belligerently ordering customers to strictly obey any particular rules in place at any one time.

Store staff have been calm, polite and helpful – I’d say exceptionally so in these fraught times.

Now one member of staff at each of the Inshes and Eastfield Way branches of Tesco Extra have tested positive for Covid-19 it has been confirmed.

A Tesco spokesman said a number of staff members were self isolating and added: “A very small number of colleagues at our Inverness Extra and Inverness Inshes Extra stores are self-isolating after a colleague tested positive for Covid-19.

“The safety of our colleagues, customers and suppliers remains our number one priority and we are working with local public health authorities, following all Scottish Government guidance, including when colleagues need to self-isolate, and taking the relevant precautions.

“We have extensive measures across all of our stores to help keep everyone safe, including protective screens at every checkout, a traffic light system at our store entrance monitoring numbers, social distancing signage and regular cleaning.”

Frontline supermarket staff have done an outstanding job in keeping things running smoothly during the past 10 months. For very many people, that surely has not gone unnoticed.


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