Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Cargill to restart High River beef plant Monday

Over 750 workers confirmed with COVID-19

cargill
(File photo by Dave Bedard)

Ottawa | Reuters — Cargill said Wednesday it will start to reopen its beef processing plant at High River, Alta. on Monday after the plant was forced to close down because hundreds of workers had become infected with the coronavirus.

In a statement, Cargill said it would resume operations after a 14-day temporary shutdown, with one shift a day beginning on May 4.

The company announced April 20 it would temporarily idle the plant, which represents about 36 per cent of Canada’s total beef processing capacity.

The company said all healthy employees from its slaughter department who have not been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 for 14 days are asked to report to work. Employees should also practice social distancing in the facility.

As of Tuesday, 759 cases of COVID-19 had been found in workers from the Cargill plant, according to Alberta Health Services data, with 1,167 total cases linked to the plant’s outbreak. One worker has died.

Health officials have said carpooling by workers to the plant, about 35 km south of Calgary, was a contributing factor. On Wednesday, Cargill said buses with protective barriers between the seats will be provided as part of its new safety measures.

Additional barriers have also been installed in bathrooms and lockers have been reassigned to provide workers with more space.

— Reporting for Reuters by Kelsey Johnson; additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg.

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