UK store that told staff to come to work if Covid positive backtracks as UK infections climb, report

Business Insider US
A Wilko store in Cardiff, Wales. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images.
A Wilko store in Cardiff, Wales. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images.
  • A UK retailer has U-turned on guidance which told staff they could come to work even while Covid-19 positive.
  • The chain is now advising staff who have the virus to "stay at home."
  • The move comes as the number of UK Covid-19 cases rises sharply.
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A UK home retailer has backtracked on advice sent to workers which said they could come to work even after testing positive for Covid-19, the Financial Times reported.

A memo sent out by managers at homeware chain Wilko at the start of March told staff members that they could still come to work after they had tested positive, if they felt well enough, the paper reported.

"If you test positive for Covid-19 and feel well you can continue to come to work. If you feel too unwell to work, you should follow the absence policy," the memo said, according to the FT.

The discount store's circular appeared to be a response to the relaxation of England's self-isolation rules. The government's legal requirement to self-isolate after receiving a positive test in the UK was scrapped on February 24. 

But with cases across the UK now rising, the retailer has backtracked on the statement, advising staff they should continue to isolate at home.

In a statement sent to Insider, Wilko chief executive Jerome Saint-Marc said: "Our advice to team members that have covid symptoms/test positive is that while they're no longer required by law to self-isolate, they should still stay at home and avoid contact with others. This will help reduce the chance of spreading Covid-19."

Saint-Marc also said enhanced sick pay was available to workers who had tested positive for Covid-19, according to the statement.

The number of weekly Covid-19 infections in the UK has risen since the requirement to isolate was lifted. There were 444,210 cases in the week to March 14, an increase of 144,184 cases, or 48.1%, on the previous seven-day period, according to UK government data.

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