Woolworths and Big W announce major change ahead of Christmas

Australia's largest supermarket chain, Woolworths Group, has halted its Covid vaccination policy for staff in light of the latest medical information and expert advice.

Despite the country heading into its peak holiday period, the retailer which owns Woolies and Big W has decided to make the change due to high vaccination rates.

“High vaccination rates across the community have played a crucial role in Australia’s fight against Covid, reducing the severity of infections and delivering a return to greater freedoms with the continued easing of restrictions," Woolworths Group Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rob McCartney, said in a statement.

The outside of a Woolworths store, with people walking out.
Woolworths Group has announced a huge change to its Covid vaccination policy following the latest health advice. Source: Getty

Under the new strategy, Woolworths Group which previously required team members to be vaccinated, will now just be "strongly encouraging" staff to do so.

“Our team vaccination requirement was designed to respond to the health risks during an acute period of the pandemic, however we have recently reviewed whether it is still necessary in light of high community-wide vaccination and the evolution in how we now live with Covid," Dr McCartney said.

“We’d like to thank our team members for doing their bit to help protect the health of each other and our customers over the course of the pandemic".

What Covid policies remain at Woolworths?

Woolworths Group announced the review into its Covid policy in late October which included conducting a survey with staff about the decision. They also sought advice from workforce Health and Safety Representatives.

As part of the change, other Covid initiatives will also be phased out such as screens between self-service checkouts and physical-distancing stickers on the floor.

Other hygienic standards will remain like Perspex screens on manned checkouts and the hand sanitiser and trolley disinfectant wipes at the entrance to stores.

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