‘Dozens’ of staff off work after Covid-19 outbreak at JLR plant

An outbreak of Covid-19 has hit Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in Halewood, with staff testing positive for the virus and many more off work self-isolating.

JLR confirmed there had been an “increase in positive cases and self-isolations” since the Christmas period – which reflected the overall rise seen in the local community and wider Merseyside area.

The car manufacturer did not confirm the numbers involved, however it is reported that 22 employees have tested positive, with dozens more off work isolating.

An employee who asked to remain anonymous said up to 65 people had been sent home to isolate so far. A second employee said the figure was even higher than that.

Workers at the Merseyside site claimed they were told by JLR to download the firm’s own contact tracing app, as opposed to the NHS official version – and are now being encouraged to test on site for the virus.

JLR said employee health and wellbeing was a “primary concern” of theirs, and the firm had seen an increase of positive cases since the Christmas period.

A JLR spokeswoman said: “At Jaguar Land Rover, the health and wellbeing of our employees is our primary concern. We have seen an increase in positive cases and self-isolations amongst our employees reflecting the overall rise in the community since the Christmas period.

“We are working closely with Public Health England and as part of our ongoing commitment to keep our teams safe, Jaguar Land Rover is taking part in the NHS Test and Trace’s Serial Contact Testing pilot and has launched rapid Covid-19 testing at our Halewood plant.”

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The spokeswoman for JLR confirmed workers are using a JLR app and are given the chance to test on-site in order to avoid isolating unnecessarily.

Once an employee is identified as a contact of someone who’s tested positive, they will take rapid Covid-19 tests for seven days.

If they receive a negative result they will carry on working, it said.

The employee must agree to take part in the scheme and rapid tests, which is being piloted, JLR said, and other “major employers” are doing the same.

A look inside Jaguar Land Rover, Halewood, as it starts a phased return to manufacturing under new social distancing measures, following the recent temporary pause in production due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: JLR employees wearing visors Inside Jaguar Land Rover Halewood after new social distancing measures introduced

It’s not the first Covid outbreak to hit the plant, and follows September’s incident – described by the firm as “small”.

Unite national officer for the automotive industries Des Quinn said: “The government has exempted certain sectors from the lockdown restrictions, one of which is manufacturing.

“The current advice is that where an individual’s role cannot be carried out from home they should continue to travel to work, which helps keep companies continuing to make a solid contribution to the UK’s economy at this difficult time.

“Unite the union continues to work with these employers to ensure their establishments comply with best practice in relation to Covid-19 and improve on the minimum standards required to prevent the spread of infection.

“If any individual has any concerns they should raise this with their employer and trade union representative.”

Business Live – North West