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Coronavirus Information Centre

 

The government has now set out it’s plan for ‘living with Covid’. We want to reassure our colleagues that the health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues remains a key priority.

The coronavirus pandemic is not over therefore it is important that colleagues continue to follow the latest government guidance for living with Covid, to continue to protect themselves, fellow colleagues, families, members and customers.

We will continue to review this page, and colleagues can continue to access this page for further support as well as checking the government and NHS websites for the latest advice.

 

Some information on these pages is private. If you are part of the leadership team please sign in to view this information.

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Frequently Asked Questions

 To read the latest colleague FAQs on COVID-19, please click here.

Key Messages

The legal obligation to self-isolate following a positive Covid test has ended. However, in line with government guidance, colleagues that have a high temperature and other Coronavirus-like symptoms that feel unwell are advised to stay away from work until they feel well again. In this scenario colleagues must follow the procedure set out in the Society managing Attendance Policy and notify their manager that they are unfit for work in the same way as they would for any other sickness absence. 

There is no longer a requirement for colleagues to test for coronavirus where they have symptoms. Colleagues may choose to obtain a test to identify if they are positive for Coronavirus. Where a colleague has organised for a test to be carried out for coronavirus and this produces a positive result they must not attend work and remain away from work for a period of 5 days, which the government has published is when they are most infectious. Colleagues are asked to follow the absence management procedure including notifying their manager of their absence and will be asked to provide evidence of their positive test result. In this instance where there is evidence of a positive test result, this period of absence will be disregarded from the absence trigger point procedure.  

The Society will also ensure that colleagues are not financially disadvantaged for refraining from work during this time and helping to protect fellow colleagues. Therefore, where a colleague has provided satisfactory evidence of a positive coronavirus test result and where the colleague does not qualify for company sick pay or is due to exhaust their entitlement, the Society will continue to provide company sick pay. 

We appreciate this may be a worrying time for all colleagues but particularly our colleagues who may be at more risk of serious illness from Covid 19. Please be assured your health, safety and wellbeing remain a key priority. We ask our vulnerable colleagues to continue to follow the government guidance, continue to access free testing where applicable, come forward in the vaccination programme and stay vigilant and practice safe behaviours in and out of work.

We ask colleagues to be open and discuss any concerns with their manager in the first instance. Colleagues can use the ‘Check in’ preparation document to help prepare for a conversation and consider how they can be appropriately supported.

Colleagues are encouraged to access our Society wellbeing advice and resources page, for further support and reassurance at this time. 

To view the latest Covid 19 risk assessment document, please click here.

To view the risk assessment form for vulnerable colleagues, please click here.

Colleagues can take their own preventive measures to avoid the spread of the infection by practicing safe behaviours for example:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often

  • Using hand sanitizers regularly where available

  • Where possible, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

  • Let fresh air in when indoors where possible

  • Work from home where possible when displaying symptoms of Covid-19 or other viral/bacterial infections, such as a cough or a cold, but are fit and able to work (please see the agile working policy for more information)

The government advise that it is sensible to wear a mask in enclosed spaces, particularly where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, when rates of transmission are high.

For further guidance on face coverings, colleagues should refer to their trading area for their individual groups or discuss this with their line manager.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is an important tool in helping to prevent infection and reduce hospitalisation and mortality. As such, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is one way that colleagues can actively assist in reducing the workplace risks associated with the COVID-19.

In accordance with public health advice and as an integral part of our health and safety measures, we therefore strongly encourage all eligible staff to participate in the ongoing vaccination programme where it is safe to do so in individual circumstances.

While we strongly urge you to get vaccinated, this is a voluntary and it is your personal decision whether to receive the vaccine. We respect the wishes of those who choose not to be vaccinated, whether this be for health or other reasons. You will not be treated unfairly or in a discriminatory way because of your vaccination status.

For support when scheduling a vaccination appointment colleagues should follow the procedure set out in the Medical Appointments section of Special Leave Policy.

Our Society policies and procedure provide further advice and guidance for colleagues, associated policies include but are not limited to:

Helpful Information

Wellbeing Wednesday - Coronavirus Toolkit

In these challenging times that we face, we felt it beneficial for our colleagues to have access to tools and tips to guide you through this unusual situation. Whether you are working in a site, self-isolating, working from home, furloughing or managing others - within the following toolkits you will find ideas and resources that have been designed to support and reassure you.

Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 1

Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 2

Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 3

Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 4

Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times. 

Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.

Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak

Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control. 

You can get up-to-date information and advice on the virus here: 

Follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water (sing ‘happy birthday’ to yourself twice to make sure you do this for 20 seconds). You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straight away, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity. 

You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly if you don’t have a tissue sneeze into your sleeve and stay at home if you are feeling unwell. 

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

Try to stay connected

At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family or contact a helpline for emotional support.  

Also, don’t forget the support colleagues can get from GroceryAid click here for more information.

It is a good idea to stick to your daily routine. You may also like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to: 

Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends might be worried too.

Talk to your children

Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need to be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm. 

We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible. 

Let’s not avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is appropriate for them. We have more advice on talking with your children about world news

Try to anticipate distress

It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking.  

Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone. 

Try not to make assumptions

Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The Coronavirus can affect anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sex. 

Try to manage how you follow the outbreak in the media

There is extensive news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is causing you huge stress, it’s important to find a balance.

It’s best that you don’t avoid all news and that you keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if it is bothering you.

How should people deal with being in self-isolation or in quarantine?

If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate). 

For people that are in self-isolation or are in quarantine, this may seem like a daunting prospect. It will help to try and see it as a different period of time in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it. 

It will mean a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you.  

Create a daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You could try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as a new if unusual experience, that might have its benefits.    

Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing and mental health during such times.

 

Follow our top tips to look after yourself:

  • If you find that the news is causing you stress, try to limit the amount of coverage that you are reading or listening to. It's best that you don't avoid news completely and that you keep informed of the developments but try to limit this to once a day.
  • Be in touch with friends and family regularly to stay connected with them via social media, email or phone, it may change your normal routine but it's important to feel close to them when feeling worried or anxious.
  • If you are unable to work, it's important that you create a new routine through exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies to keep busy and active.
  • Eating well and keeping hydrated is important for physical and mental health, and good for keeping on top of low mood and blood sugar levels.
  • Help the vulnerable. If you can get out, think of those that it's more difficult for. Why not help the elderly or sick with their shopping or weekly errands to ensure they are kept safe.

Your GroceryAid Wellbeing Tips: 

How can GroceryAid Help? Click here for more information.

- Self-Help Guides

We have various Self-Help Guides available through our partner Rightsteps from day one of working in the grocery industry. 5 Ways to Wellbeing, Anxiety, Healthy Eating, Low Mood, Physical Activity are just some of the topics available to work through for help.

- Wellbeing Sessions

Ideal for those looking to make lasting changes in their lives you have access to a more structured self-guided support. There are 6-8 sessions lasting approx. 45 minutes each. Sessions include topics such as General Anxiety, Learning to Change, Low Mood, Social Anxiety.

- 24/7 Helpline - 08088 021 122

GroceryAid provides a confidential 24/7 Helpline, 365 days a year for anyone who is working or has worked within the grocery trade, regardless of the length of service. This free service provides emotional and practical support to help through a difficult time.

Find out more:

We are following all advice provided by WHO, PHE and the NHS:

World Health Organisation

Public Health England

Health Protection Scotland

National Health Service

Please note: our insurers have advised that travelling against Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice may jeapordise your Death in Service insurance cover.

If you are planning to travel, please can you ensure you check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office for advice beforehand.

If you decide to travel despite restrictions and/or warnings in place, please can you complete and submit the below form before you travel:

1. Check foreign travel advice for the countries you want to go to

This will tell you if:

  • the country will allow people to enter from the UK

  • you will need to show proof of vaccination status or proof of a negative COVID-19 test

  • you will need to quarantine on arrival

Foreign travel advice will also tell you if the UK government advises against all but essential travel to the country.

Check foreign travel advice for all countries you will visit or travel through.

 

2. Arrange any COVID-19 tests you will need to enter the countries that you will travel to

You cannot use an NHS test for this. You must use a private test provider.

 

3. Find out how you can use the NHS COVID Pass to prove your vaccination status abroad

Some countries require proof of vaccination status before you can enter.

Read about how you can use the NHS COVID Pass to prove your vaccination status.

You should do this before you travel.

 

Travelling with children

You should also check the rules about travelling with children in the country you are travelling to or from

Your Co-op Travel is working together with Your Co-op Pharmacy to help you with Covid-19 testing for your travel needs when you need it.

Some countries require a negative Covid-19 test certificate to gain entry, and colleagues along with travel customers are eligible for a discount to make them close to cost price. Click here for more information and purchase Covid-19 testing kits for travelling.

We strongly advise you to check the FCDO website for the very latest guidance. For the latest information, you can visit the Covid Travel Service.

Changes to Policies & Procedures:

It is vitally important that all colleagues understand and adhere to the policies and procedures relating to personal protection and social distancing including, what personal protection equipment should be worn, what cleaning regimes should be in place, what social distancing protocols should be observed in both customer-facing and back-of-house areas and to help protect both colleagues &  customers.

Guidance and instruction to help all colleagues understand what procedures and measures have been put in place by each group can be read below.

To help ensure the specific measures for each group are being implemented effectivity and consistently site managers have been asked to carry out an audit of compliance.