COVID’s new threat to Christmas favourite

 

Christmas could taste very different this year, with meat producers warning coronavirus restrictions will cause a shortage of festive favourites.

The national body representing butchers and producers said some Victorians would not be able to find hams, roasts and sausages if state government measures are not altered.

Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchinson is calling on Daniel Andrews to rethink the "lazy" blanket restrictions.

"The community deserves our restrictions being lifted to ensure that we can get supply chains moving at an effective rate so we don't have pressure on the Christmas table," Mr Hutchinson told the Sunday Herald Sun.

"Not just for Victoria but across Australia, people rely on the supply of fresh red meat and processed products that come out of Victoria. At this stage, all of that is in jeopardy."

Producers are begging for restrictions to change so they can ensure Christmas meat supplies can be met.
Producers are begging for restrictions to change so they can ensure Christmas meat supplies can be met.

Under the current restrictions, meat processing facilities have been operating with at least a 30 per cent reduction of their usual workforce.

Measures were introduced for the sector after a series of serious outbreaks at facilities, which industry bodies said had largely been controlled following protocol changes.

Mr Hutchinson said sites needed to be assessed individually to take into account the varying levels of risk associated with different processing producers and to return to at least 80 per cent of workers on site.

"Individual (site) appraisals can then be judged by competent people that understand our industry and our supply chain," Mr Hutchinson said.

"It should allow an individual company to remove further restrictions on a case-by-case basis, not this blanket situation, which … is lazy."

 

Delicious hams could be scarce this year.
Delicious hams could be scarce this year.

Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews said the Victorian restrictions were a "blunt instrument" and needed more flexibility.

"This is about so much more than whether there will be a Christmas ham on the table," Ms Andrews said.

"The Victorian government's blinkered approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions means many businesses and their workers will have little to celebrate."

Industry representatives have been consulting with relevant authorities in the lead up to Sunday's announcement and future easings, according to the state government.

"Meat and seafood processing businesses are a critical part of the agriculture supply chain and we are working closely with industry as we work through what arrangements will apply in this sector while operations are highly restricted," a Victorian government spokesman said.

 

@tamsinroses

Originally published as COVID's new threat to Christmas favourite


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