Businesses suffer staff shortages and supply issues as Covid hits Coffs

Empty shelves at local supermarkets have once again become a familiar sight across the Coffs Coast as Covid-19 cases peak in the community. Photos: Emma Darbin.

 

THE rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus across the Coffs Coast over the Christmas and New Year period has forced many businesses to reduce their operating hours and suffer supply issues as staff are forced to isolate due to a Covid-19 diagnosis or being a close contact of a positive case.

Coffs Harbour City Council was this week actively monitoring staffing levels and any associated impacts on Council services and released this statement on Monday 10 January.

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“Staff shortages mean that Jetty beach will not have Lifeguards on duty today,” a Council spokesperson stated.

“Please use caution if swimming at the Jetty beach, the nearest Lifeguards will be located at Park Beach.

“We will seek to inform the community at the earliest available opportunity of any changes to services through our social media channels, website and normal media channels.”

Other local businesses have taken to social media to alert their customers of their closures or reduced operating hours due to a lack of staff due to public health isolation requirements.

The Hoey Moey announced reduced trading hours for last weekend and an altered Bistro menu over its Facebook page.

“Friends, we have held on as long as we can but the inevitable has happened… we are very short staffed so we need to reduce trading times,” the business stated.

Moonee Beach Hotel also took to Facebook on Sunday 9 January to inform patrons that “unfortunately due to staff shortages in our kitchen we will be operating off a reduced menu”.

Woolgoolga Diggers took to Facebook to announce that its Beach St Dining restaurant would be running on a temporary menu and will be closed on Mondays until further notice.

Lotus Floral Studio at Woolgoolga announced a return to its previous lockdown setup due to the current local Covid climate in the community when the store reopens on Tuesday 18 January.

“Our doors will be closed for walk in custom…but we will be taking phone and email orders for contactless delivery and arranged pickup outside our shop,” store staff stated.

“To keep myself and our team Covid free so we can keep trading during this difficult time for small business.”

Empty shelves have greeted shoppers at local supermarkets over the past week, particularly in the toilet paper/tissue aisles and cold meat sections of supermarkets as supply chains have become stretched due to isolating staff members across NSW.

Aldi Australia CEO Tom Daunt has apologised to customers for delays in getting stock into Aldi supermarkets across the State.

“The rise in COVID cases has significantly impacted supply of food and groceries, as labour shortages in food production and supplier logistics have skyrocketed,” Mr Daunt said.

“As the country transitions from a suppression strategy to one where we live with COVID, we’ve already begun to encounter some hurdles-most notably, labour shortages due to COVID sickness or isolation.

“Many of our valued business partners that supply our products are short of staff-and at ALDI, we’re experiencing this too.”

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain issued a message to customers and the supermarket chain enforced a temporary limit on some purchases to help manage current customer demand, including purchasing only two packs of both chicken and red meat products from the store’s Meat Department as well as a limit of one Rapid Antigen Test pack per customer.

“An increase in COVID case numbers in the community has required more people to isolate, which has meant fewer people are available to work in Australia – including in the food industry,” Mr Cain said.

“At Coles, this has resulted in disruptions to deliveries from our suppliers, which in turn has impacted the availability of some products in our stores.

“We expect it will take several weeks to fully recover.”

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci also contacted customers about the current situation.

“When you’re shopping with us at the moment, you might unfortunately have noticed gaps on shelf, or substitutions in your online order,” Mr Banducci said.

“This is because of the number of people in our supply chain in isolation.

“We are currently experiencing COVID-driven absences of 20% + in our distribution centres and 10% + in our stores.”

Positive Covid-19 cases must now immediately self-isolate for 7 days commencing on the day of testing until they get a negative test result and take precautions (such as mask wearing) and avoid high risk settings such as hospitals and aged care for a further 3 days.

Close contacts, a household contact or those spending more than 4 hours with a positive Covid case in a residential setting, must isolate for 7 days from the day of exposure and undertake a Rapid Antigen Test as soon as possible followed by another Rapid Antigen Test on Day 6.

Those testing positive for Covid-19 from a Rapid Antigen Test will soon be able to register their positive diagnosis with Service NSW or NSW Health and be able to access appropriate health advice and assistance.

The number of Covid-19 cases across the State is anticipated to peak by the end of January.

In anticipation of this increase, non-elective surgery will continue to be suspended at NSW public hospitals through to February during this latest outbreak.

Previous public health restrictions have also been reintroduced into social settings to help halt the current spread of the Covid-19 virus which includes no singing or dancing at hospitality venues (including pubs, clubs, nightclubs, bars and restaurants), entertainment facilities and major recreation facilities from Saturday 8 January until Thursday 27 January.

Major events scheduled for the coming weeks will be risk-assessed by NSW Health and the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Event organisers should assume their event will proceed unchanged unless they are contacted by NSW Health to advise otherwise.

The NSW Government is continuing to encourage people to take extra precautions to reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19 including:
● Limiting large household gatherings and gathering outdoors where possible
● Staying seated when drinking in hospitality venues

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the best way to keep communities safe is through the booster program and stated that workers who had to be fully vaccinated to work last year will now require a booster vaccination.

“Anybody for whom vaccination was mandatory already, will now have boosters mandated,” Mr Hazzard said.

“This means for people working in particular settings to be classified as fully vaccinated, they will now need to have had three shots.

“Boosters provide additional protection not only for you, but for your colleagues, loved ones and community.”

Covid-19 Pfizer vaccinations for children aged 5-11 are now available from Monday 10 January, with children to receive two doses of the vaccine eight weeks apart.

 

By Emma DARBIN

 

Empty shelves at local supermarkets have once again become a familiar sight across the Coffs Coast as Covid-19 cases peak in the community. Photos: Emma Darbin.

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