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On 12th July, Herefordshire’s AS Green & Co reported 73 of its workers had tested positive for coronavirus marking the first reported coronavirus outbreak on a farm in the UK. Up to 200 workers were told to self-isolate as the farm was forced to lockdown.
A NFU spokesperson said the industry was taking the issue “incredibly seriously, and everything is being done to keep workers safe; their health and safety remains the priority”.
“Across the sector there have been significant investments this season; from the use of additional safety equipment and PPE, regularly testing temperatures, and following government guidance created specifically for seasonal workers.”
AS Green & Co is now working with Public Health England and the public health team at Herefordshire Council to support its workers. “Our site is currently closed for all visitors and with the assistance of the various bodies no workers are being permitted to leave our site and are receiving the required support at our site,” the farm said.
“Our work force and local community are our priority at this difficult time and we continue to follow the guidance of the relevant bodies to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled and our workforce is supported.”
One worker at AS Green & Co claimed social distancing was not being observed on the farm after workers spent an initial week in quarantine. She told the Guardian: “I was isolated at the beginning but after that we were treated as one big household and you are all working together. Everyone is living and working so close together that it’s not surprising that if anyone gets Covid, it will spread very fast, and now nearly half of them have got it.”
The family-run farm, which specialises in Tenderstem broccoli, broad beans, runner beans and helda beans, supplies the UK’s major multinationals, including Aldi, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
It is hoped the high-profile outbreak will cause other farms to recognise the importance of safety measures such as social distancing so as not to disrupt the UK’s peak fresh produce season. In order to avoid any issues at your farm, make sure to check out the latest government regulations and advice.