WILKO has apologised and made a swift U-turn after it told staff they could attend work even if they test positive for Covid.

The discount retailer said in a new policy document to workers: “If you test positive for Covid-19 and feel well you can continue to come to work, if you feel too unwell you can follow the absence policy.”

The company, which employs about 16,000 staff at more than 400 UK stores, outlined the updated policy as fears rise over increased hospital admissions due to the virus.

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The retailer has stores right across the North East and North Yorkshire including in Darlington, Middlesbrough and Metrocentre.

However, Jerome Saint-Marc, chief executive of the business, has now apologised and blamed “miscommunication”.

“When we get something wrong, we hold our hands up, admit it and work to correct the situation,” he said.

“Today’s news has highlighted some miscommunication within our Covid-19 policies, and I wanted to reassure all our customers and team members.

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“Our advice to team members that have Covid symptoms or test positive is that while they’re no longer required by law to self-isolate, they should still stay at home and avoid contact with others.

“This will help reduce the chance of spreading Covid-19.”

It comes after self-isolation rules were changed last month in England despite criticism from public health experts.

The Government has also confirmed that free widescale testing is due to end from April 1.

In January, Wilko also confirmed plans to shut 15 stores in a move that unions warned could impact hundreds of jobs.

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