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Supermarket chain Morrisons has announced it is to create 3,500 new jobs to expand its home delivery service amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The retailer said it would be recruiting about 2,500 pickers and drivers, plus 1,000 staff in its distribution centres. It will make more slots available and also set up a call centre for those without access to online shopping.

Morrisons said the move would help “at a time of national need”.

Other measures it is planning includes a “colleague hardship fund” to help staff, in addition to pledging sick pay to all employees and redeploying colleagues who are vulnerable to the crisis.

The supermarket said it was also launching a new range of simple-to-order food parcels from 23 March. David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said: “We expect the days, weeks and months ahead to be very testing and we are determined to do our bit.

“These measures will support our very hard-working colleagues, enable us to provide more food to more people in their homes and create opportunities for people whose jobs are affected by the coronavirus.”

Morrisons also said it would look to protect employees where possible by asking customers to pay by card or smartphone to reduce cash handling, issuing hand sanitiser at checkouts and ramping up cleaning.

Last week the chain vowed to pay small suppliers immediately to help support cash flow.

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