Stores and lounges warn of potential disruption as rise in Covid hits staff

Major disruption extended for a second week for staff at supermarkets, fashion stores and hair salons amid the continuing huge wave of Omicron disease, major grocers, owners of small businesses have warned. stores and the largest retail union.

Nearly 24,000 new cases of the virus were reported yesterday as Ireland reported its millionth case.

Such high numbers have become the norm in recent weeks, leading to large-scale absences from the workplace due to illness and close contact.

Tesco, which is one of Ireland’s three largest supermarket chains, said some of its stores had been forced to cut opening hours but was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of staff.

SuperValu, the Musgrave-owned chain that also owns Centra, has confirmed that some of its franchisees have reduced opening hours.

A spokesperson for Aldi said all of its stores remained open with only “minimal changes” to hours of operation so far, but said isolation rules for close contacts were tough.

The Irish Hairdressers’ Federation, which includes hairdressers Peter Mark, Blow and Brown Sugar, said Omicron’s illnesses were “having a devastating effect” on salon owners on Saturday and Sunday.

Some salons reported that four to eight staff were ill over the weekend, the spokesperson said.

Liam and Diane Ryan, who operate five SuperValu and Centra outlets in Co Cork and Co Limerick, said 102 of 562 full-time and part-time employees were sick one day last week, with ripple effects on the opening hours of a store. .

Illnesses were still at exceptionally high levels yesterday, with 82 employees unavailable for work, Ryan said.

Jonathan Hogan, deputy general manager of the Mandate union which has 30,000 retail members, including staff from Tesco, Dunnes, Penneys, SuperValu and Marks & Spencer, said the disruption continued for a second week, d ‘other staff taking over. to ensure that stores continue to operate.

Mr Hogan said that since Covid antigen testing was free for everyone in the North, retail employers in Ireland should provide free kits to their staff as store staff face enormous pressure .

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We, like all industries, have seen an increase in Covid-related absences in recent days and continue to monitor the situation closely.”

A spokesperson for the SuperValu group said all of its stores were open yesterday, but some outlets have reduced their opening hours due to high levels of Omicron checkouts.

“As SuperValu stores are operated by independent retailers, a small number of stores may have reduced hours of operation due to higher than normal staff shortage rates,” said the spokesperson for SuperValu.

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