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Food: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 38350, tabled on 22 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the logistical security of the UK's food industry during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answered on

10 September 2021

The food industry is very resilient and well equipped to respond to disruption. The industry sectors have highly resilient supply chains, as we have seen throughout the Covid-19 response. The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry to support their preparedness for potential disruptions to the supply chain. We have continued to work closely with stakeholders and industry during this time.

We have worked across Government to introduce measures to make sure businesses can continue to keep essential supplies flowing. These include extending delivery hours to supermarkets and flexing rules on drivers’ hours to allow a higher frequency of deliveries to stores.

We recognise the impact that absence rates as a result of Covid-19 have had on some businesses carrying out critical work across the food industry this summer. To enable those who would otherwise not have been able to work to safely do so, the Government introduced Workplace Daily Contact Testing.

As of 16 August 2021, those who are fully vaccinated, participants of approved vaccine trials or those unable to have the vaccine for medical reasons are exempt from self-isolation if they are a close contact of a positive case, though they continue to be advised to take a PCR test. Following these changes, the Workplace Daily Contact Testing scheme continues to provide benefits for contacts who have not yet been fully vaccinated, and those sites wishing to maintain a site continue to be supported.