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Last updated: 16.07.20

Post Lockdown: The Return to Work for the Food and Drink Industry

Post Lockdown: The Return to Work for the Food and Drink Industry

Covid-19 has altered the path of 2020 and has drastically affected the food and drink industry. With most of the UK under lockdown since March 24th, pubs, shops, restaurants, and many other businesses closed their doors to customers in order to prevent the spread of this virus.

However, as of the 4th of July, much of the food and drink industry was able to return to work and begin the ‘new normal’ way of trading. However, there are mixed emotions on returning to work. Getting back to trading is great for business and their revenue, however the threat of the virus is very much in the forefront of some people’s minds, especially for those working in this industry.

We have spoken to some businesses within the food and drinks industry to better understand how they feel about returning to work in this current climate. We received over 350 responses, and they are within the catering, retail and manufacturing sector of the food and drink industry. The responses were very enlightening and provide a glimpse into the concerns and fears these individuals have.

The three main concerns that came from the survey was that how the businesses would be profitable, having access to adequate PPE and how to return safely both for themselves and for their customers. One of the outcomes of the lockdown was that many people across the country were furloughed in order to protect as many jobs as possible. Unsurprisingly, the food and drink industry were affected - more than half of businesses are currently furloughed or unable to work.

Across all of the three sectors, 66% of people and very concerned about their safety in returning to work, with social distancing in the workplace being the main concern. In many businesses, steps are being taken to ensure the safety of their staff and customers however staff having these concerns are valid in these uncertain times.

Much of the UK was in lockdown since March 24th, and because of that people have not been able to go out to pubs, shops, restaurants and other businesses within the food and drink industry. Therefore, it is understandable that 81% of business owners are concerned about their profits not returning to normal.

Respondents from the food catering sector were the most concerned about the safety of their guests (65%), and 69% of them were very concerned about the safety of themselves and their colleagues. 80% of food catering businesses owners are very concerned that their profits won’t return back to normal. With the potential lack of profits, jobs may be at risk. This feeling is something that is shared amongst employees in this sector, with 56% very concerned about their job security following the pandemic.

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The food manufacturing sector are much less concerned about their job security, with only 41% expressing concern. This might be due to only 31% of the manufacturing sector being on furlough or unable to work. However, business owners from this sector are the most concerned about their profits not returning to normal after the pandemic, with 64% stating they were very concerned about this. One food manufacturing employee even expressed concerns about profits being put before safety.

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Within the food retail sector, almost a third of employees (27%) feel that their employer is not prepared to return to work safely, therefore its no surprise that 58% of them are very concerned about the safety of themselves and their colleagues. This survey has also highlighted that 70% of people in the food retail sector are concerned about social distancing in the workplace when returning to work, compared to 63% in catering and 52% in manufacturing.

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With forced closures since 20 March, the food and hospitality industry has undoubtedly been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic – but as many businesses start to return to work, how can we do so safely? Our new series of ‘Safe Return to Work’ courses cover the latest guidance and social distancing measures for businesses involved in food catering, retail, or manufacturing.