Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Which supermarket chain dominates virus hotspots

Supermarkets have been major potential Covid hotspots, remaining open when most other shops are forced shut.

But one brand featured more prominently in August than others on the Ministry of Health list.

Countdown had nearly double its closest rival’s numbers.

The ministry tells people to record their store visits, check places of interest to see if they have been there at the same time as a Covid case in the community, then take action if the two are unfortunate enough to coincide.

If you’ve been at one of those supermarkets at the wrong time, you may have to isolate, get tested immediately and even stay away from anyone else for 14 days. Contacts who attended one of the locations during the relevant times are asked to act to protect everyone else.

Countdown has so far recorded by far the highest numbers, its stores listed 32 times as places of interest, from Westgate to Pakuranga, from Grey Lynn to Mangere. The visits listed are from August 18-26.

Pak’nSave features 16 times, its places of interest stores spreading from Auckland to Wellington’s Kilbirnie. That store in the capital appears more than once, visited for example twice on August 25 by a possible Covid community case, boosting the number of times the ministry lists it.

Visits to only six New Worlds are listed and they are all in Auckland, from Chatswood to New Lynn and Green Bay to Papatoetoe.

A Countdown spokesperson said there was no particular reason it had more locations of interest than Pak’nSave or New World.

Foodstuffs, the country’s largest grocery retailer, which owns New World, Pak’nSave, and Liquorland among others, said there were seven Pak’nSaves and six New Worlds in Auckland that were of the location of interest.

There are 17 Pak’nSaves and 29 New World supermarkets in Auckland.

The spokesperson said all of the stores have been open throughout the level 4 lockdown.

Gilmours, part of the dominant Foodstuffs business, doesn’t appear once on the list. Nor did Foodstuffs’ Four Square or its Liquorland.

“Our 36 Liquorland stores in Auckland are currently closed and are operating a contactless delivery service,” the spokesperson said.

On today’s media release Countdown general manager of corporate affairs, quality, safety and sustainability Kiri Hannifin said 20 of its stores had been visited by someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

And they had seven stores temporarily closed due to low team numbers.

These stores were Countdown Halsey Street Metro, Albert Street Metro, Birkenhead, Hauraki Corner, Mangere Mall, Westgate and Takanini.

Countdown has just over 60 stores in Auckland.

Hannifin said, since level 4 began, the chain had seen more than 2600 ofits staff who could not come to work and more than 1000 were still out of action on any given day.

“Due to their store being a location of interest, having a household member at a location of interest, not having childcare available or because they are vulnerable to Covid-19,” she said.

But 500 of them would be returning back to work from this week.

But last week they had delivered more than 3.5 million cartons of food and groceries to its stores and purchased extra 285 tonnes of potatoes, 100 crates of fruits and vegetables, which was an increase of 25 per cent compared to the week prior, Hannifin said.

Upmarket boutique chain Farro has three visits on the ministry’s list: Mairangi Bay visited once and Grey Lynn visited twice.

Three dairies are listed, all in Auckland – in Remuera, Mangere and Clendon Park.

SuperValue in Avondale appears twice, on August 23 and 25.

Shops with liquor in their names featured 11 times as places of interest including Liquor King Ponsonby and Mission Bay Liquor.

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