More Woolies workers test positive

By | July 17, 2020

Woolworths distribution centres in Melbourne’s southeast will stay open and continue operating as normal despite two more workers testing positive for coronavirus.

Employees at the two Mulgrave sites were notified of the new cases on Friday morning as Victoria recorded a record 428 new COVID-19 infections overnight.

One of the employees who tested positive worked at the fresh produce warehouse and completed their last shift on Thursday, while the other was from the adjacent national distribution centre and last worked on Sunday.

The company said both sites were separate and only shared a carpark.

The new cases come after staff were notified on Tuesday that a contractor who worked at the national distribution centre on July 7 had contracted the virus.

A deep clean of the sites took place on Thursday night but some workers have been shocked by the decision to keep the warehouses open despite the confirmation of further cases.

Hundreds of employees were being tested at the factory on Friday morning as part of proactive voluntary testing that Woolworths offers staff.

A company spokesman said they didn’t believe either team member, or the contractor, was in close contact with anyone else working at the distribution centres.

So far no other staff have been required to self-isolate, and Woolworths said they would continue to offer workers voluntary testing multiple times a week.

It’s not known at this stage whether the staff contracted the virus at work or at home, and the Woolworths spokesman said investigations were continuing.

He said both sites would remain open and continue to dispatch deliveries to stores as normal.

“We’re informing our DC team members about both cases and will provide our full support to anyone required to self-isolate in line with advice from the Department of Health and Human Services,” he said.

“We’ve been conducting detailed cleaning across all high-touch areas four times a day for a number of weeks. As an extra precautionary measure, we have completed a deep clean of all manual handling equipment, headsets, the lunch room and other shared facilities.”

It’s understood the Melbourne Produce Distribution Centre delivers to every store in the state every day of the week, with Friday and Saturday the two busiest days for workers.

The adjacent Melbourne National Distribution Centre dispatches packaged grocery, health and beauty and general merchandise, not fresh produce, dairy or meat.

Earlier this month competitor Coles was forced to reintroduce purchase limits at its Victorian and Tasmanian stores after multiple workers at its Laverton chilled distribution centre tested positive for coronavirus and hurt the supermarket giant’s ability to replenish shelves.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

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