Agribusiness takes steps to contain the threat of COVID-19

Liz Wells March 24, 2020

McGregor Gourlay’s Peter Barratt and a customer at the Inverell branch conduct business under the new distancing measures introduced to guard against COVID-19 spread.

NORTHERN New South Wales agricultural service provider, McGregor Gourlay, will tomorrow introduce a range of stringent measures to counter the threat of the COVID-19 virus disrupting vital agricultural and food supplies.

Joining agribusinesses across the nation taking steps to minimise the spread of the virus, McGregor Gourlay will ban all non-essential personnel from entering the offices or showrooms at its branches.

Instead, staff will source products from the shelves and customers will collect them from shed or outdoor areas to reduce the risk of close contact and virus transmission.

McGregor Gourlay managing director, Josh McGregor, said the company had taken the steps to protect customers and staff and ensure the agricultural sector continued to fulfil its vital role of food production.

“Agriculture is going to be absolutely critical to the country this year. It has one of the most important roles in the whole economy to make sure we pump out food,” he said.

“But we won’t be able to do that if our customers and staff get sick and we have to close down branches. So, we have a really critical role to play.

“Whilst it will make things a bit clunky and cause some inconvenience, we felt we should take every measure we can to reduce the chance of any infection.”

Mr McGregor said eftpos machines and terminals would be set up in shed or outdoor areas where transactions could be conducted outdoors.

“Where we have branches with farm merchandise and animal health products that have more floor traffic we will have the terminals right at the front door and staff will go back into the branch to get whatever our customers want,” he said.

“If they want to email us or call beforehand we would be happy to get things ready so it is packaged up and ready to go. The idea is to reduce the risk at every opportunity.

“Our staff will continue to greet you with a warm smile instead of our normal handshake but all goods will need to be picked up or delivered from our warehouse yards.”

Mr McGregor said the business had moved to stop face-to-face interactions.

“We have suspended all visits from sales representatives and service providers. They were suspending their own operations as well,” he said.

“We will be posting a lot more online by Twitter and our website for people to get updates remotely.”

“Our staff will continue to greet you with a warm smile instead of our normal handshake but all goods will need to be picked up or delivered from our warehouse yards.”

Mr McGregor encouraged any businesses that hadn’t yet enacted risk-reduction measures to do so in the national interest.

“The more of us that do it the less chance there is that anyone will go down with the virus,” he said.

“I feel the same way about our competitors. We don’t want to see those guys go down as well. If anyone falters it will put pressure on the rest of the system. I hope the whole industry looks at doing the same and keeps everyone safe.”



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