Damart UK confirms COVID-19 outbreak at its Bingley base
In a statement, the business – based at Bowling Green Mills on Lime Street – says it is following all government guidance, as well as listening to advice from Bradford Council and Public Health England.
The statement reads: “Damart UK can confirm that a number of cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed amongst staff who were based at its contact centre in Bingley, despite the business having very strict and comprehensive precautions and processes in place. As a result, the business is now moving to home working for all remaining contact centre staff, joining their colleagues, many of whom have been home working since March. Some contact centre staff have been asked to self-isolate as a result of the cases, in line with Bradford Council and Public Health England advice. Virtually all head office corporate staff based in Bingley are now working from home, in line with government guidance, with just a skeleton staff remaining.
“Damart’s Steeton workplace, where parcels are dispatched from, is unaffected and operating as normal, with strict precautions and supervision in place. Damart has worked in close co-operation with all relevant agencies throughout the pandemic and has provided its Lime Street Bingley car park to be used as a Covid drive-in testing centre, which is fully operational and has been open for the general public to book appointments from yesterday (16 November).”
In response to Damart’s announcement, Sarah Muckle, Bradford Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Following a number of staff working at Damart testing positive for COVID-19, we have been working closely with the business and Public Health England to provide advice and guidance so that the risk of infection spreading is reduced. Staff are aware of their need to self-isolate if they have been a potential contact of someone who has tested positive. We know that rates of COVID-19 in the district have been high, and so unfortunately we know there are likely to be outbreaks in some workplaces. That is why it is so important that we all follow the advice to keep a safe distance, wear a face covering and wash our hands regularly.”
Dr Trevor Higgins, a key figure from Bradford’s business community, said that the outbreak at Damart was “unfortunate”, but added that its staff being forced to work from home is a sign of how businesses are changing and adapting amid the pandemic.
Dr Higgins, the chief executive of Bradford Breakthrough, said: “It’s unfortunate that this is happening, and I feel for everybody affected. But, I do think it is a good sign that Damart has managed to continue operating – it’s a sign of how businesses are changing, as we go forward. I think that the impact we saw on businesses at the start of the original lockdown will be lessened this time. Businesses are more prepared and are able to operate in different ways. More companies are beginning to do conference calls and Zoom meetings and I think that will continue throughout the future.
“People are learning that business can be conducted in different ways, and some of the time that was wasted by travelling to and from meetings is ceasing to be seen on a large scale. But some of the one-man bands and smaller firms – like your plasterers, plumbers and electricians – aren’t getting much support, which needs some serious looking at. I do worry about the impact this is having on them. They will be at a disadvantage, if no one helps.
“In terms of the virus itself, I think we all need to take personal responsibility, and ask what we can do to keep the numbers down – we have to comply with the rules. We have to ask ourselves if we are socially distancing, wearing masks – where appropriate – and washing our hands.
“I don’t think we can just rely on waiting for a vaccine – that would be great, but we have to start thinking about what we can do, personally, to address things.”