Tesco to start testing shop workers for coronavirus

Tesco has said its shop workers will start receiving coronavirus tests this week as the Government ramps up its testing efforts.

In a letter to customers, chief executive Dave Lewis said Tesco will begin to trial testing for its workers in one region of the UK.

It is understood the voluntary testing will be available for around 200 staff and comes after talks between supermarket bosses and the Government.

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Supermarket shoppers form epic queues
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
People form a long queue snaking a long way round the parking lot, as they wait to enter a wholesaler supermarket in Coventry, England, early Saturday March 21, 2020. The government has ordered the closure of public gathering places like restaurants, pubs, gyms and leisure centres in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. For some people the COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for others it causes severe illness. (Jacob King / PA via AP)
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
People form a long queue snaking a long way round the parking lot, as crowds wait to enter a wholesaler supermarket in Coventry, England, early Saturday March 21, 2020. The government has ordered the closure of public gathering places like restaurants, pubs, gyms and leisure centres in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. For some people the COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for others it causes severe illness. (Jacob King / PA via AP)
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
In Pictures: Coronavirus contrast of empty motorways and supermarket queues
People wait outside a Tesco Express store at 10.30am on Saturday morning as some supermarkets are restricting opening hours in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Photo credit should read: Katie Collins/EMPICS
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People queue outside of a Waitrose supermarket in St Albans, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs
People queue to shop at Sainsbury's supermarket in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, where the store had announced that the first hour of opening would be for elderly and vulnerable customers.
Early shoppers queue and wait in line for the opening of a supermarket in Rugby, England, Thursday, March 19, 2020. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. Some supermarkets are limiting the number of similar items shopper can buy to try and halt hoarding and panic buying, when the supermarket groups and government say there is no shortages in the supply chain. (AP Photo/Martin Cleaver)
Customers wait in a long queue to enter a Costco members wholesale outlet in Farnborough, west of London, on March 19, 2020. - Britain's supermarkets stepped up efforts to safeguard supplies, especially for vulnerable and elderly customers, as the sector battles stockpiling caused by coronavirus panic. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Customers wait in a long queue to enter a Costco members wholesale outlet in Farnborough, west of London, on March 19, 2020. - Britain's supermarkets stepped up efforts to safeguard supplies, especially for vulnerable and elderly customers, as the sector battles stockpiling caused by coronavirus panic. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Shoppers queue outside a Sainsbury's supermarket prior to opening in Plymouth on March 19, 2020 in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The store allowed only the elderly and vulnerable into the store for the first hour. After spates of "panic buying" cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Shoppers queue outside a Sainsbury's supermarket prior to opening in Plymouth on March 19, 2020 in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The store allowed only the elderly and vulnerable into the store for the first hour. After spates of "panic buying" cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
NORTHWICH, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 19: Senior citizens queue to shop at Sainsbury's Supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, United Kingdom. A queue of approximately 600 old age pensioners formed before the market opened at 7am as the shop opened specially for the elderly. After spates of "panic buying" cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs
People queue outside of a Costco store in Watford, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs
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The supermarket added that the testing will only be "for critical workers currently experiencing symptoms or for those with symptoms who are living with critical workers".

Coronavirus
Social distancing markers are in place at Tesco stores (Aaron Chown/PA)

Tesco said that around 41,000 of its staff are absent each day, with the figure steadily falling.

It said it has recruited 50,000 temporary workers to plug the gap and keep operations running in recent weeks.

The supermarket has seen sales jump as shoppers have stocked up on essential items in the face of the virus, with demand for home deliveries surging.

Mr Lewis told customers that Tesco is offering almost one million delivery slots this week, following an increase of 400,000 slots in the past six weeks.

"We'll increase this to 1.2 million deliveries per week in the next few weeks," he added.

The supermarket also said it will donate £15m of food to community groups and food banks over the next 12 weeks, on top of its ongoing monthly donation of meals worth £3m.

Mr Lewis said: "None of what we're doing would be possible without the support of our colleagues, or the patience and understanding of our customers.

"There has been a huge amount of change in a very short time, and a lot for you and our colleagues to adjust to. Thank you once again for your support."

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