Covid-19 updates: 27 March

From emergency store recruitment to new safety measures, more updates from the co-op movement


The Co-op Group has filled every one of the 5,000 temporary store roles it created last week in a record seven days – following an unprecedented response from the British public to the retailer’s recruitment drive which has been prompted by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

By this weekend, all 5,000 new recruits – many of whom found themsevles out of work after the pandemic hit – will be in situ. The Group says this will help stores replenish their shelves more efficiently, fulfil online orders more quickly and provide ongoing assistance to vulnerable customers and communities.      

Jo Whitfield, CEO at Co-op Food, said: “Just one week ago we asked members of the British public who needed jobs to come forward and join forces with us. The response has been overwhelming as people pull together to feed the nation. All of our colleagues are heroes and are doing an amazing job under huge pressure.”  

Rachel Marriott, 27, from Manchester, said: “I was studying for my Masters in social work but my placement was cancelled overnight, leaving me with no income so I was desperate to find some work. I saw that the Co-op was advertising for new roles in their food stores and phoned up on Friday, had an interview an hour later and was offered the position at one of their Salford stores on the spot! It was all so easy, I couldn’t believe it and I’m so happy to be a part of a wider movement that is helping to keep the country going.” 

This week, the Co-op announced a raft of measures to enforce social distancing in stores following the announcement of new Government legislation including the introduction of floor markers, creating more space between customers at till points and controlling the number of customers in stores at any one time.    

Co-op colleagues in business support roles who are not currently working in stores or distribution centres are also being encouraged to ‘lend-a-hand’ in their local Co-op amid the surge in demand for groceries.  

Central England Co-op Funeralcare has announced new measures to keep colleagues and families safe as they help people prepare to say goodbye to their loved ones. These changes include:

  1. Funeral homes have restricted public access with clear information displayed on how to contact the teams if needed
  2. Providing a new service enabling families to complete funeral arrangements over the phone or via email
  3. Visiting loved ones is still allowed by appointment and providing social distancing guidance can be followed
  4. Closing florist shops based on Government instructions. Families can still take their own flowers direct to any service
  5. Being unable to provide limousines to comply with social distancing advice
  6. Funeral directors being encouraged to use wheeled trolleys instead of shouldering coffins
  7. Being unable to provide new headstones or refurbish existing ones for the time being.  Stone removals for burials will still be provided

 Hazel Moss, head of funeral, said: “We are working to do all we can to support our families at this difficult time but we feel these measures have to be put in place to protect them and our colleagues.We will continue to monitor the situation with a view to taking all appropriate steps to minimise risk to our colleagues, all funeral directors and their teams and all mourners and the public while maintaining the highest standard of service possible.

“These are circumstances that none of us could have imagined, but it continues to be our privilege to support families at this difficult time. Together, we will still give your loved one the best funeral we can, in the current circumstances.” 

These new measures come after changes were also put in place at Bretby Crematorium to keep colleagues and mourners safe.  The grounds at the site are remaining open. New measures include:

  1. Funerals are restricted to immediate family only with a strong recommendation of a maximum attendance of 10 mourners. Immediate family includes partners, parents, children, siblings and grandchildren
  2. We offer free of charge webcasting of services
  3. Curtains will be closed around coffins at the end of the service
  4. Hymn books will be removed from chapels for the foreseeable future
  5. A gap of at least 10 minutes between services to allow for crematorium staff to tidy the chapels
  6. Funeral Directors will be encouraged to use wheeled trolleys instead of shouldering coffins
  7. Advice will be posted on site asking families to use hand washing facilities, sit some distance apart from each other and not to shake hands
  8. The main office on site will also be closed to the general public and the Book of Remembrance and other memorial work have been halted at this time

People can keep up to date with the latest guidance by visiting a dedicated online hub at

Community-owned October Books, which has been focusing on mail order after its Southampton shop went into lockdown, has branched out into other ethical products, from the likes of Suma Wholefoods and Divine Chocolate.

Disruptions to the movement include the delay of new stores openings Lincolnshire Co-op was due to open a new food store in Grantham on 2 April, creating 15 jobs; this is now on hold.



The government has announced a six-month moratorium on loan repayments for the country’s 14,628 co-ops from April to September 2020, amid concern

Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said: “In the effort to ease the burden of affected cooperatives, MEDAC has announced a moratorium on loan repayments by cooperatives to the Cooperative Development Revolving Fund (TMP-JPK) under the Companies Commission of  Malaysia (CCM).”

He added that the moratorium involved an estimated about RM99m (£19m).


The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has joined national efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19 and lockdown measures take effect. This includes awareness work, health advocacy and production of face masks and hand sanitiser.