Some of the millions of British workers furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown will be encouraged to take a second job picking fruit and vegetables, the government has said.

Giving the daily COVID-19 briefing, Environment Secretary George Eustice said only a third of the migrant workers who normally picked fruit and vegetables were currently in the country.

Although the international food chain was continuing to “work well”, Mr Eustice said he expected there would be a need to recruit staff in the UK to harvest crops in the coming weeks.

“We’re also acutely aware that we’re about to start the British season in fresh produce, in soft fruits and salads.

 

“We estimate that probably only about a third of the migrant labour that would normally come to the UK is here, and was probably here before lockdown.

“We are working with industry to identify an approach that will encourage those millions of furloughed workers in some cases to consider taking a second job, helping get the harvest in June.”

He added: “It’s not an issue at the moment since the harvest has barely begun, but we do anticipate that there will be a need to recruit staff for those sectors in the month of June.”

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