Italian-inspired restaurant chain Zizzi has launched an internal investigation after one of its restaurants was closed by police over allegations staff had been told to continue working despite possibly having Covid-19.
The Guardian newspaper has reported that a Zizzi in Clifton, Bristol closed last Thursday but reopened on Monday following a deep clean. The staff concerned are now self-isolating.
One staff member was said to have been warned, incorrectly, that they would be denied the statutory sick pay of £92 a week if they stayed home because of worries about working alongside colleagues who may have the virus.
Impact of Covid-19 on jobs
Avon and Somerset Police said: “We received a call on Thursday 29 October amid reports of two members of staff at Zizzi’s restaurant in Clifton failing to self-isolate the previous day. Two officers from our Covid team attended and the premises was shut.
“We have made Public Health England and the local authority’s environmental health team aware.”
No other Zizzi branch has experienced similar issues and there is no suggestion that the actions of managers at the Clifton branch were the result of any company-wide policy.
A source told the Guardian that one manager had asked staff to go to work while awaiting test results. A colleague was also told that if they didn’t go to work they wouldn’t receive statutory sick pay while an asymptomatic staff member with a positive test result text while they were at work did not go home.
Another worker had allegedly continued to work at the restaurant with symptoms of illness while an employee whose partner had tested positive continued to work.
A spokesperson for Zizzi said: “We have clear Covid measures in place to protect the wellbeing of our customers and our teams; however on this occasion our strict protocols have not been adhered to. As soon as we discovered this, we acted decisively to voluntarily close the restaurant, with all team members self-isolating, and there is an ongoing internal investigation into the mistakes that were made.”
The Guardian said Zizzi had not been asked to provide customer details from NHS test and trace or public health to help. This was probably because it had not been identified as the location of a potential Covid outbreak.
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “Environmental health officers are working closely with the police and Public Health England to ensure the premises at Zizzi’s Clifton is Covid-secure and adhering to test and trace and self-isolation requirements.”
In July Zizzi closed 75 sites after it was taken over by US investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners with the loss of about 1,200 jobs.