Planning for an Outbreak – What You Can Learn From Ruby Princess

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In recent weeks we have been contacted by a range of clients requesting support to document pandemic scenario continuity plans. Customers are looking for certainty in their supply chains that food and beverage manufacturers are prepared to handle a likely second wave  COVID-19 outbreak.

A crisis plan to handle an outbreak looks very different from a typical Business Continuity Plan (BCP). BCPs use a structured process to identify critical and vulnerable processes and implement contingencies for these.  A COVID-19 outbreak plan provides detailed actions to respond to a specific scenario.

Why a Plan is So Important?

Most organizations that have put some thought to this eventually conclude that the authorities will swoop in and take over in the event of an outbreak. If this is the extent of your plan then can I suggest the Ruby Princess might be a good example of why relying on the authorities might not be a great strategy.

If the Ruby Princess is too far removed from the food industry then let’s consider Smithfield Pork, the largest pork producer in the world, who have shut down their South Dakota plant, employing 3,700 people, and as at 15 April had 644 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least one death. Not only are Smithfield Pork dealing with a supply chain interruption, now they are dealing with a full-blown PR crisis.

This is an opportunity for you, but only if you plan now.

What’s in a Plan?

 The key difference between a continuity and a crisis plan is the importance of communication.

Understanding who your stakeholders are and having very clear messaging prepared to ensure that you are controlling the story. Clear allocation of roles and responsibilities, regular review of the situation and consistent messaging are as important as the need to support your staff to receive the medical support they require, working with authorities to clean the plant and re-organising your shifts.

To understand the difference between a crisis plan or a continuity plan,download your guide here.

If you are still uncertain whether you are sufficiently prepared to handle an outbreak, or you’d like to take a second look, book a free call with risk management expert Peter McGee here.