Countdown 1400 Staff Down Due to COVID

Businesses around the country are being forced to close their doors as staff numbers dwindle due to Omicron.

Countdown spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin said that while no stores were closed yet, 1400 staff were away, either isolating as a positive case or as a household contact. The supermarket chain has a feature on its website allowing shoppers to check whether their local stores are closed or operating reduced hours due to the pandemic.

“In our Auckland stores, we are about 10 percent down in team numbers, and in our two Auckland distribution centres, we’re around 45 percent down,” she said.

“As people come back from being unwell or isolating, we’re also seeing more people go off work, so we’re continuing to prepare for increased numbers of sickness and people away.”

Many suppliers were also affected by staff isolating. There was plenty of food and groceries available, but it was taking longer to be delivered to the supermarkets, she said.

Foodstuffs said the situation was too fast-moving to provide numbers on how many staff were off work isolating or sick.

Chief executive of produce distributor Seeka Michael Franks said 85 of its 1400 had tested positive for Covid-19 and another 150 were isolating adding that the company wanted to hire another 4200 workers in the next two to three weeks.

“We remain short of labour after two very tight years,” said Franks.

There had also been a sharp increase in online ordering and delivery.

Countdown struggled to keep up with the demand for its delivery services and encouraged people to shop in-store if they could, to keep the service free for people isolating.