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Coronavirus: Deliveroo and supermarket delivery staff urged to take precautionary steps


Deliveroo riders have received coronavirus advice (Rui Vieira/PA)

Deliveroo riders have received coronavirus advice (Rui Vieira/PA)

Deliveroo riders have received coronavirus advice (Rui Vieira/PA)

Deliveroo and supermarket delivery staff are being urged to take steps to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus.

It comes as trade unions urged the Northern Ireland Executive to step in and take measures to protect workers rights.

Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Owen Reidy has written to the ministers for the Economy, Communities, Health, Finance as well as the Executive Office appealing to them to protect workers and their incomes in the event of a major outbreak.

Companies including Asda and Deliveroo have issued advice to delivery drivers in a move to protect them from contracting the virus.

Deliveroo riders have been sent official guidelines based on the advice of the NHS and public health bodies, which include what to do if they thing they may have symptoms and how to stay safe when delivering an order.

They've also been asked to get in contact directly with the company if they test positive for the coronavirus so they can take precautionary steps.

The company said it is in touch with health authorities on a daily basis to seek advice and guidance.

For Asda workers, home delivery staff are being advised to follow government advice, including guidance on hand-washing.

It's understood delivery drivers are unlikely to contract the disease as official advice indicates those in close contact with patients fall into the low-risk category.

Close contact is considered either face-to-face contact or spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person.

While Asda delivery drivers do not have ready access to a sink to regularly wash their hands, they do carry cleaning equipment in their vans.

Even for those who are eligible, the payment is still too low at just £94.25 a week Owen Reidy

The Northern Ireland committee of the ICTU has called for Stormont to make a case for stronger action on protecting workers. It said proposals considered at Westminster did not go far enough saying the NI Executive has the power to act.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to introduce sick pay from day one of someone self-isolating.

A letter from the ICTU to the Executive pointed toward government planning indicating a fifth of the work force could be off sick as the outbreak takes hold and highlighted how Northern Ireland had a disproportionate number of low-paid workers not eligible for sick pay.

"We must also acknowledge the warnings from the Department of Health that it is highly likely that the spread of this virus could significantly increase," Owen Reidy wrote.

"Even for those who are eligible, the payment is still too low at just £94.25 a week."

He said the measures may lead to workers not taking the appropriate time off work if they fall ill.

Mr Reidy called for emergency legislation to ensure universal sick pay for all workers, with a lower threshold to ensure anyone is entitled no matter how much they earn - and for sick pay to be increased to the Real Living wage of the weekly equivalent of £9.30 an hour.

He also called for workers who have been required by their employer to self-isolate are treated as at work and therefore receive full pay.

Belfast Telegraph