Supermarkets Shelves Bare in Sydney as Covid Isolates Staff – News Couple
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Supermarkets Shelves Bare in Sydney as Covid Isolates Staff


(Bloomberg) — Sydney residents face empty shelves in some supermarkets as cases of the exploding coronavirus force a group of employees from truck drivers to warehouse workers into isolation.

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Woolworths Group Ltd. said. , Australia’s largest supermarket operator, said some store deliveries were being delayed, while rival Coles Group Ltd said increasing numbers of staff were isolating due to family exposure to the virus.

A wave of coronavirus infections in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has hampered deliveries from major distribution centers to suburban supermarkets. The state – which includes Sydney – has recorded more than 100,000 cases in the past five days.

READ MORE: Omicron Explosion quells New Year’s Eve celebrations in Australia

While the omicron variant appears less severe than previous strains, the sheer scale of infection disrupts supply chains by grounding essential workers. The increased cases come after restrictions were eased in most parts of Australia, which in most cases of the pandemic has followed the Covid Zero strategy while distributing vaccines. More than 90% of those over 16 years of age are now fully vaccinated.

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In recent days, some Woolworths stores in Sydney have sold some fruits and vegetables, and other fresh goods have been running out. The Sydney-based company said staff and suppliers were “doing everything they can to refurbish stores as quickly as possible.”

In a statement, Coles said he “continues to monitor the availability of team members.”

Australian businesses are already grappling with a labor shortage and the crisis is expected to worsen over the next 12 months, according to a survey by the National Australia Bank of 1,600 businesses.

The survey found that about four in 10 Australian businesses view the crisis as a “very important issue”, with the effect most visible in Western Australia, where Prime Minister Mark McGowan has not yet fully opened state borders.

The most severe shortage was in occupational workers, followed by professionals, sales workers, workers, machine operators and drivers, according to the NAB survey, conducted from November 16 to December 13.

Australian policy makers are hopeful that the labor shortage will finally lead to a rebound in wage growth, which could help push inflation back within the central bank’s target range of 2%-3%. The Reserve Bank has left its key rate at a record low 0.1% since November 2020.

(adds a comment from Coles in the second paragraph)

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