Omicron chaos disrupts George Sofanios’ food distribution business

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The exploding omicron cases are causing unprecedented disruption to Australia’s food distribution industry, with many suppliers forced to scale back operations because their staff are falling sick or isolating.

One of these suppliers is George Sofanios, who is the owner of Newcastle-based food distribution company, Red Funnel.

Mr Sofanios told ABC News how he was forced to shut his doors for eight days over Christmas after he had two positive COVID cases in his night-shift staff. It meant the rest of the staff on that shift became close contacts and couldn’t work.

The closure came at a cost of somewhere between $1 million to $1.5 million in sales, and it was the longest Mr Sofanios’ business had ever been closed since his family started operating in 1933.

“Disaster might be the right word in terms of staff shortages,” he told the national broadcaster.

“It was quite a shock to the business after 86 years to close for that period of time, especially in the busiest time of year.”

Since then, National Cabinet agreed to relax close contact rules, with a close contact now defined as a person you live with or have been with for four hours or more in a household or household-like setting in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

The period of time people must isolate has also been cut from the initial 14 days to seven days for people with COVID, if they are symptom free and seven days for close contacts, with a negative test result.

But Mr Sofanios said the close contact rule has still become redundant, given that more than 90 per cent of adult Australians have received two COVID-19 vaccinations.

“I don’t think you need to have a close contact rule. When people are sick, they don’t come to work,” Mr Sofanios told The Australian.

Other food distributors across the nation agree with Mr Sofanios and believe state governments need to come up with different solutions to help businesses stay open.

Source: ABC News.

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