Mum explains what it’s like to send her son back to work on the front line – at a supermarket

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Working from home and staying indoors as much as possible is the new normal for Brits during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the same can’t be said for key workers who have to head out to go into work each day to keep the country running.

Examples of key workers include those who work in supermarkets, stacking shelves and making sure people get essential food and supplies.

One “anxious” mum explains what it is like to watch her son go out to work each day, putting himself at risk of getting the virus.



Empty shelves at supermarkets

This is what Hannah Stephenson really thinks and feels about having a child work on the frontline of the disease – not on the NHS but at a supermarket.

Despite lengthy training and experience in various departments higher up in the supermarkets, Hannah’s son was sent to work in stories that were struggling to cope with coronavirus panic buyers.

Despite consistent hand sanitising and glove wearing during his shifts, less than a week after he’d returned to store earlier this month, he came home feeling ill with a sore throat, cough, flu-like symptoms.

According to government instructions, he self-isolated for seven days.

However, his symptoms got worse as his chest tightened- the GP prescribed him antibiotics, suspecting a chest infection.

Hannah added: “Over the next few days my son recovered. Today, just over a week after quarantine began, he returned to work, to the store where customers will likely be standing too close for comfort.

“Although many supermarkets are now installing protective screens at checkouts and trying to distance customers.

“He hasn’t been offered PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) or any really effective protective clothing up to this point.”

After suffering frequent chest infections as a child, Hannah debated whether her son should return to work or not.

She added: “His hopes of learning new skills within different departments of the business look unlikely in the immediate future as the prospects of returning to any semblance of normality soon become more remote, but he’s needed on the shop floor.

“Also, It would surely be a great show of resilience in the face of disaster, when on your CV you could write: ‘I served on the front line during the coronavirus pandemic’.”

Hannah added that working as a supermarket assistant may seem “a world away” from what NHS worker are facing- they are exposed to diagnosed coronavirus patients, seeing the devastating impact this virus can have.

She said: “If my son were an NHS nurse, would we even consider that he should quit in the face of this invisible killer?”

Hannah added that her son is “unlikely” to remain two metres from people during his shift, as the government recommend.

NHS workers aren’t even being given appropriate protective clothing- what hopes is there for supermarket workers?

Ms Stephenson said: “As a mother, anxious thoughts pervade. Am I allowing him to be thrown back into the lion’s den of customers and fellow workers, who may be super spreaders? I know I will never forgive myself if he contracts Covid-19 and ends up in hospital, or worse.

“But he’s 21 – it’s his decision. And this morning he left home equipped with gloves, hand sanitiser and a huge reminder of spatial awareness. I’m incredibly proud – and as anxious as I have ever been”



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