A massive COVID-19 outbreak at a KFC restaurant in Sydney, Australia has many people in the country calling for all fast food establishments to be temporarily shut down. According to a report by News.com.au, 12 staff members at a single Sydney KFC tested positive for the novel coronavirus, even amid the city's latest round of lockdowns. Now, people are re-evaluating how "essential" these businesses are through this public health crisis.
Australia has developed a reputation for some of the swiftest and tightest COVID-19 restrictions throughout this global pandemic, and for the most part, it has worked out well for them. However, this KFC outbreak startled employees, city officials and the general public when it came out this month. Through contact tracing, officials managed to reach out to every single customer who visited the Canterbury Road branch of KFC between July 27 and Aug. 2 — the time when they might have been exposed. All of those people were asked to take a COVID-19 test and self-isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.
Australia's current COVID-19 outbreak is reportedly centered around the city of Sydney and the state of New South Wales (NSW). The state has been under lockdown protocols for about eight weeks now, but sadly new cases are still on the rise. The state's chief health officer, Dr. Kerry Chant, explained in a press conference that the KFC outbreak is a perfect illustration of how the Delta variant can impact any workplace it enters.
"You have one person who introduced [COVID-19] to a workplace, then you have 12 people who have become infected. Each of those 12 people will go back to their households and introduce it there," she explained. "Then you get the cycle of transmission. That is why it is so critical that people get tested at the earliest point, and that people even in workplaces follow all the covid safety practices."
Chant stopped short of calling for all fast food restaurants to shut down under lockdown orders, but many Australians voiced that conclusion on social media. Many also pointed out that their neighboring island, New Zealand, shut down fast food chains with great results. New Zealand's "level 4 restrictions" mean that only supermarkets, convenience stores, chemists, gas stations and a few other select establishments can continue doing business.
"KFC doesn't need to be open. Allowing this makes lockdown take longer for everyone and every business currently forced to close," one person tweeted at the time. Another added: "They are clearly giving up, relying on vaccination to get us out of this. We could be doing more. Every essential worker in Sydney should be getting tested every three days, regardless of which LGA you live in."