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JD Sports tests Rochdale warehouse employees for Covid-19

By Huw Hughes

9 Jul 2020

JD Sports has reportedly set up a mobile testing lab at its central warehouse in Rochdale after some of its workers there tested positive for Covid-19.

“Acknowledging our responsibilities as one of the largest employers in the area, we are pleased to be working with the NHS and the local council to provide a mobile NHS testing facility on site, with voluntary tests available for any colleagues who are looking for peace of mind,” a JD Sports spokesperson said in a statement seen by the Guardian.

“This testing facility has been made available as part of the council’s ongoing community initiatives in the Rochdale area, and will be available to colleagues on a number of days over the next two weeks. The health and safety of our colleagues is always our highest priority and we will continue to take all measures to protect their wellbeing.”

Rochdale was named one of the Covid-19 hotspots in the UK earlier this month.

Rochdale borough council said it was looking into whether there were any links between cases in the area and the company’s warehouse. It is understood, however, that of nearly 500 JD Sports workers tested this weekend through the new mobile lab, only one additional person tested positive.

’Cautious approach’

Rochdale borough council’s director of public health, Andrea Fallon, said: “We are aware of a small number of positive cases at JD Sports who have been contacted as part of our local contact tracing service, and are now all self-isolating. Although the numbers are small and we are still working to understand if there are any possible links, we are taking a cautious approach and working closely with JD to bring in additional resources to offer testing to as many employees as possible.”

The council has reportedly made over 10 visits to the site during the pandemic, several unannounced, and have seen no violations of social distancing.

In June, Leicester became the first city in the UK to enforce a local lockdown following a spike in Covid-19 cases, with reports linking the outbreak to warehouses in the area which were making clothing for Boohoo. The fashion retailer has since come under fire following reports of poor working conditions at those sites.

Allegations of workers being forced to work even when they were ill and being paid 3.50 per hour led to the company’s stocks plummeting as big-name brands like Asos, Next and Zalando pulled its brands from their sites.

On Wednesday, the company announced it would be launching an independent review of its UK supply chain.

Images courtesy of JD Sports/Silverburn