Food businesses in ‘chaos’ as some workers stay away, confused by government advice on ‘key workers’

Government’s recent text messages and speeches advising everyone to stay at home has left key workers in food production confused about whether or not they can go to work, according to the British Poultry Council, which represents poultry processing firms. “This is causing chaos for food businesses that are doing everything they can to offset the risk of a supply chain disruption and ensure that shelves are stocked,” the BPC said.

The BPC has called on the Government to reinforce the critical role of food workers in keeping the food chain moving and encourage healthy key workers to go to work.

British Poultry Council chief executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “British food producers are feeding this nation and supporting the heroes of the NHS on the frontline. We want the Government to do everything it can to bring clarity in its communications and ensure our healthy key workers aren’t discouraged from going to work. We cannot run the risk of interrupting food production, resulting in limiting the nation’s food supply.

“Government’s recent text messages and speeches advising everyone to stay at home has left key workers in food production confused about whether or not they can go to work. This is causing chaos for food businesses that are doing everything they can to offset the risk of a supply chain disruption and ensure that shelves are stocked, and the vulnerable groups have access to food.

“We are calling on the Government to reinforce the critical role of key workers in keeping the nation fed and reiterate that food producers are exempt from the ‘stay at home’ rules in its future speeches and text messages. Government must encourage all healthy key workers working in the food supply chain to go to work and remove any barriers, including police checks, for those who are certified as a key worker by their employer (as per Government instructions).

“From farmers and vets who look after our birds, through butchers and engineers who keep our factories working, to drivers and distributors who get food to the shelves, it’s essential that food supply is prioritised during these extraordinary times. Government must support all key workers as they continue doing this crucial job.”

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