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Owner of Spalding and Holbeach food manufacturers say it is unfair to blame high Covid rates on factories

A leading food manufacturing firm has called on people to stop blaming their industry for the district’s high Covid-19 infection rate.

South Holland has had one of the highest infection rates in the country - with the nature of food and factory work put forward as a possible explanation.

However, a spokesman for Bakkavor - which has sites in Spalding, Holbeach St Marks and Bourne - said it was unfair to blame business such as theirs.

Bakkavor West Marsh Rd (18966790)
Bakkavor West Marsh Rd (18966790)

They said: “There is no basis to suggest that food manufacturing explains high infection figures. Bakkavor has strong controls in place.”

Bakkavor insists it has ‘stringent safety protocols’ and says it built on its existing hygiene to prevent infections.

It said workers are encouraged to maintain two-metres distance from colleagues and that all staff and visitors have to self-certify that they are fit and well before entering its sites.

The spokesman added: “Bakkavor has had a policy of enhanced outbreak pay when needed, supports anyone that needs to self isolate and has run on-site testing programmes when they have been needed.”

In Tuesday’s Lincolnshire Free Press we reported that the Government is now giving more money to local councils to help people who need to self-isolate.

Unions had called for greater financial support - arguing many low paid workers in South Holland cannot afford time off work. It is feared that this financial pressure puts people off taking tests.

South Holland District Council is looking into how to use the extra funding - but union bosses warned that it won’t be enough.

A Unite spokesman said: “The money being offered by the government is a drop in the ocean to what is needed to ensure self-isolation.

“Many of the hotspots for Covid transmissions are linked to workplace transmissions and a major factor is people not being able to afford to self-isolate on £96 per week. Until that matter is addressed, people will be feel compelled to break the rules in order to provide for their families.”

Unite wants Statutory Sick Pay to be raised from £95.85 a week to £320.

At time of press, South Holland had a Covid-19 case rate of 122.1 per 100,000 people. That’s the 15th highest in the country and compares to a 56.2 UK-wide average.

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