Store’s staff turned away after self isolation

From 7am until midday, nearly 60 Checkers staff members were refused entry after coming back from self isolation.

Bayside Checkers staff who tested positive for Covid-19 say they were refused entry to the store on Monday morning even though they had been given the all-clear after two weeks in quarantine.

Several employees spoke to Tabletalk on condition we didn’t publish their names. They said managers at the store had demanded the nearly 60 members of staff bring letters from a hospital confirming they were free of Covid-19.

Suzanne* said she had tested positive for the virus two weeks ago and Monday was supposed to be her first day back at work.

“After testing positive, I got so scared that I just cried so much. I was so worried about my family and myself. I told my manager, but that didn’t help because no assistance was provided to me.

“I contacted the Department of Health and on Tuesday April 21, the department took me to Lagoon Beach Hotel to isolate there. There were a few other workers there too,” she said.

According to her, she stayed at the hotel for two weeks and a doctor checked on her and the others daily.

Suzanne* said a doctor at Somerset Hospital had told her she couldn’t get tested again at a state hospital to confirm she was Covid-19 free; she would have to go to a private hospital and pay to have the test done.

“Most of us tested at public hospitals, and we can’t afford to go get tested again for R1200 at a private hospital. The least Checkers could do is pay for our retests then. We already haven’t received any assistance from them anyway.”

Provincial Department of Health spokeswoman Natalie Watlington said tests weren’t repeated after the isolation period. Instead, patients were given a letter stating their isolation period had ended.

“It will also say they have recovered and are fit to continue daily activities as per regulations according to the current state of lockdown.

“We encourage the acceptance of the ‘completion of isolation’ letter as a guarantee that any person presenting this official letter is fit to resume work.”

Part-time Checkers worker Claire* said she had not received her weekly wage after being turned away on Monday, her pay day.

She is worried about her children if she doesn’t get her money.

“I was taken to Lagoon Beach for isolation on the 24th (April) and I had submitted a document to Checkers stating that I tested positive and would require self isolation. I’m getting the run-around from the managers and no clear answer as to what happens with our pay.”

Claire* said she had had to send her two children to her mother in the Eastern Cape for the time being as there was no one else in Cape Town to look after them.

Tabletalk reported last week that two female staff from Bayside Checkers died after contracting Covid-19.

A family member of one of the women said Checkers hadn’t shown any concern for her.

The Shoprite Group, which Checkers is part of, refused to answer Tabletalk’s questions about the deaths or confirm just how many staff at Bayside Checkers had tested positive for Covid-19.

Claire* said she was afraid because she felt Checkers would ignore their concerns.

The Shoprite Group said while the well-being of their employees and customers remained their top priority,
“we cannot provide detail with regards to specific cases of positive testing”.

“And to protect employees’ privacy we cannot provide detailed information with regards to specific cases. We appeal to the media to understand this and respect patient confidentiality.

“Checkers Table View (Bayside Mall) remains closed until further notice,” the group said in a statement.

Efforts to get a hold of Checkers were unsuccessful after emails sent on Monday morning by Tabletalk.

Shoprite public relations officer Angelique Wagner said information to the media had to go through Shoprite Media, a division that can only be contacted by email.

*Names have been changed.