Public health officials have said a ‘full risk assessment’ will be undertaken following an outbreak of Covid-19 among staff at a branch of McDonald’s in Stockport – while an MP has raised concerns about how the track and trace system will remedy the situation.
The branch on Wellington Road South was temporarily closed on Sunday after five employees tested positive.
McDonald’s said all employees have been informed of the situation as well as Public Health England and the Environmental Health Officer.
All staff who worked from July 22 onwards have been advised to isolate.
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The latest figures from Public Health England show Stockport’s coronavirus infection rate more than trebled from 8.2 infections per 100,000 people on July 22 to 26 per 100,000 people a week later.
Public health officials at Stockport Council issued a statement this morning which did not address McDonald’s by name, but outlined the general response to Covid-19 outbreaks at hospitality venues in the area.
Jennifer Connolly, Acting Director of Public Health for Stockport Council said, “Our thanks to all those hospitality venues in Stockport working hard to operate in a covid-secure way.
“This includes notifying us immediately if any cases are identified relating to the venue, to enable swift action to be taken.
“A full risk assessment will be undertaken of any hospitality venue where positive cases have been reported.
“After that, people who have been in close contact with anyone having tested positive will be contacted and informed of the need to isolate for 14 days.
“In the meantime, if anyone is displaying symptoms, you and your household should isolate and arrange to be tested.”
It was not immediately clear if customers who have visited the McDonald’s will be considered to have been in ‘close contact’ with the staff who have tested positive.
It is understood McDonald’s was only open for drive-thru customers, and for deliveries to be picked up from UberEats and JustEat drivers.
Stockport MP Navendu Mishra called on the council to issue ‘specific guidance’.
He told the Manchester Evening News : “The government’s test and trace system is clearly not working.
“The outbreak at the Stockport McDonald’s is a messy situation.
“There are lots of questions.
“My primary concern is people who have emailed me who have family members who work there.
“I’m told McDonald’s knew of positive cases last Monday and it took six days to close the branch.
“I know the council has been working really hard during the pandemic – but it would be helpful to issue specific guidance.”
Addressing concerns around the time it took to close the restaurant, a McDonald’s spokesperson said today: “Following three employees testing positive at our Stockport restaurant last week, we consulted with Public Health England to review the facts and share the actions taken by the restaurant, including a deep clean by an external company and contacting all relevant employees.
“After confirming with Public Health England that our initial steps complied with the guidance, over the weekend we then took the proactive decision to temporarily close the restaurant as a precautionary measure following an additional two employees notifying the restaurant that they had tested positive.
“We have been in contact with all the restaurant employees and also remain in regular contact with Public Health England and the Environmental Health Officer.
“As with all of the decisions we have made across this unprecedented period, the safety of our people and customers is our absolute priority, and we will re-open as soon as we feel we can.
“We are writing to Navendu Mishra MP, to provide an overview of the safety measures and policies we have in place, and the process that was undertaken in this instance.”
The government’s track and trace system for coronavirus has come under consistent criticism since it was introduced at the start of June.
Today, the director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen Council Dominic Harrison said the authority is developing its own local tracing system.
“The national system is simply not tracing enough cases and contacts fast enough,” he tweeted.
“We are starting with ‘case tracing’.”
Professor Kate Ardern, lead director for public health in Greater Manchester, replied: “Exactly what we’ve done in GM too.”
Coronavirus infection rates are rising in nine of the ten boroughs in Greater Manchester, leading the authorities to declare a ‘major incident’ over the weekend.
A McDonald’s spokesperson said yesterday: “We have proactively decided to temporarily close our Stockport restaurant as a precautionary measure following a rise of Covid-19 cases in the local area with five of our employees testing positive.
“We have been in contact with all the restaurant employees and also with Public Health England and the Environmental Health Officer.
“As with all of the decisions we have made across this unprecedented period, the safety of our people and customers is our absolute priority, and we will re-open as soon as we feel we can.”
Stockport council has issued the following information for anyone who wants to get tested for coronavirus:
“If you’re positive, you will need to isolate for 10 days, and the rest of your household for 14 days.
“Please note, if you are contacted and asked to isolate because you have had close contact with someone confirmed as having coronavirus, you will need isolate even if you have had a recent negative test result.
“As a reminder, the best way to avoid becoming a contact is keeping 2m distance when socialising or out and about.
“For any further information about coronavirus, including if you need support to self-isolate, is available at www.stockport.gov.uk/coronavirus ”