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Staff at Ryanair’s HQ Ring the Alarm Over How COVID-19 Outbreak Was Handled

Staff at Ryanair’s HQ Ring the Alarm Over How COVID-19 Outbreak Was Handled

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Ryanair employees working at the airline’s Dublin headquarters have raised concerns over how a recent COVID-19 outbreak was handled in the offices after Irish health officials got involved and started their own mass testing exercise on workers.

Some employees claim that should they have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus they were told to tell officials from the Health Service Executive (HSE) that they didn’t have any close contacts. Anybody identified as a close contact would be forced into self-isolation which could have had a knock-on impact on Ryanair’s operations.

Other employees were told they even if they wanted to name potential close contacts, data protection rules prevented them from doing so. Should HSE officials push employees for names, employees were told to refer them to senior managers.

It’s understood that Ryanair didn’t believe employees could be classified as close contacts because the airline has implemented new safety procedures including social distancing throughout its offices.

But a number of workers in Ryanair’s operation room – the airline’s nerve centre that controls operations across Europe and oversees every flight – say they were “particularly concerned” about safety procedures in the room.

“That room in particular, it’s like a meeting room. It’s big, but there’s no ventilation, the doors are always closed,” one unnamed worker told the PA news agency, reported by the Irish Examiner. “Even the winter before Covid, one person in the room got sick and we all got sick. The ventilation in the room is shocking.”

Ryanair has been carrying out its own COVID-19 testing on staff which is separate from testing conducted by HSE. In early December, the airline told staff that an outbreak had been detected. Shortly afterwards, HSE decided to intervene with its own mass testing on staffers.

Employees were originally told that the outbreak was limited to one room which had been deep cleaned. Days later, a memo told workers that “additional cases” had been detected. By the end of January, the outbreak appeared to be under control and no additional cases had been detected in over seven days.

“Ryanair operates an essential service, and has at all times complied with HSE Health and Safety guidelines in the workplace,” a Ryanair spokesperson commented. The airline does not comment “on rumour or speculation”, the spokesperson added.

The HSE declined to comment on specific issues at Ryanair.

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