Frozen food chain Iceland said this week it was having to shut stores because 1,000 staff had been alerted by the NHS Covid app.
Managing director Richard Walker said images of empty shelves were isolated incidents and said shoppers had “no reason to panic”. But he said “the government should be panicking” about the possibility of a worker shortage.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We recognise there are some absences in the food supply chain so what we’re announcing is for the top four hundred or so sites, things like supermarket depots, and some of the key food manufacturers.
“We’re going to change the system, and enable them to test and return to work, so somebody who is contacted in future by test and trace or is pinged will be able to have daily contact testing for seven days and be able to carry on working, provided their tests remain negative.”
Mr Eustice added: “We’re still concerned about the level of hospitalisations, so we want to do what’s necessary to get the food supply chain working, but at this stage not go as far as including those stores.”