Many agribusiness companies are still unclear as to who will receive support as part of the government’s commitment to provide food factories and distribution centers with thousands of daily Covid tests.
Sources involved in talks with the government this week told The Grocer it was still not clear which companies would receive government assistance, although the PM said on Tuesday he would prioritize testing daily per 100,000 workers in “critical national services”.
The rollout of government support is due to start from Monday and follows a widespread shortage of lateral flow test kits across the UK.
However, a source said there was “enormous confusion” about what the support actually entailed.
“When the prime minister made this big announcement to help keep the country running, it looked like it was something that would be up and running within hours,” the source said. “In fact, it won’t start until at least next Monday, and companies are desperately trying to figure out what that really means.”
The Grocer revealed last month that a series of major food companies have relaunched mass testing at factories across the UK in a bid to deal with the Omicron push.
It is understood that the government has promised to contact companies directly to let them know if they will be eligible for the latest support, with major food processors seen as the main target, but sources said it was not clear which categories food would be included.
“A lot of companies are already testing because they see it as a way to stop the spread of Omicron, but a lot of companies are not. There is an argument that the more you test, the more likely you are to find cases, and some companies may be concerned about causing their own labor shortage.
Another source involved in the talks said the government announcement was just a “sound clip.”
They added, “It made a good headline for the government to say they are providing 100,000 tests, but the point is, it’s pretty much a continuation of the situation with the tests that were there before.
“A lot of companies don’t want to get involved because they don’t have the staff or the space to start testing at work and would prefer people to be tested at home.”