Australia breaking news today, live coronavirus updates and latest Omicron headlines January 7, 2022:

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has outlined the impact the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has had on the supermarket giant.

With customers noticing gaps on the shelves and substitutions in online orders, Mr Banducci issued a message saying the store was dealing with a “very different phase of COVID”.

“Unlike the surge buying of early 2020 (who could forget the toilet paper), this is because of the number of people in our supply chain in isolation – from suppliers to truck drivers and distribution centre team members – which in turn is causing material delays to store deliveries,” Mr Banducci said in a release.

“To give you a sense of the magnitude of the challenge, we are experiencing COVID-driven absences of 20 per cent-plus in our distribution centres and 10 per cent-plus in our stores.”

New South Wales is currently the most-affected state, but Mr Banducci said there were impacts across the entire country – and it wasn’t clear how soon the system would recover.

He urged people to be “flexible” in their shopping meanwhile, such as substituting an absent preferred brand with another product in that same category.

“If you’re shopping online, as a temporary measure we are automatically activating substitutions on all orders,” Mr Banducci said.

“We know this isn’t ideal, but it does mean there’s less chance of missing out on something you really need. We’ll revert to your preference as soon as possible.”

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