Kitchener-Waterloo

Cargill meat plant in Guelph returns to full operations following COVID-19 outbreak

The Cargill meat processing plant in Guelph is set to return to full operations this week. It shutdown between Dec. 16 and Dec. 29 following a COVID-19 outbreak that saw 154 positive cases.

New safety measures have been implemented at the plant

The plant reopened on Dec. 29 after it was shutdown due to COVID-19 outbreak. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The Cargill meat processing plant in Guelph is set to return to full operations this week.

It was shutdown between Dec. 16 and Dec. 29 following a COVID-19 outbreak that saw 154 positive cases.

Most people have recovered and are back to work, according to Tim Deelstra, spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 175 and 633.

"We want to make sure that there are best outcomes on this, so we're just looking at it from day-to-day with the employer to try and build it back to capacity. We're looking at how it's going as the days progress. It's expected by Wednesday to Thursday, the plant should be back up to full production," he said.

There are about 800 Cargill employees in Guelph that help supply 20 per cent of Canadian beef production.

New safety measures

The company ramped up safety measures to ensure physical distancing and prevent spread of the virus.

Deelstra said the company hired four additional staff to help with enhanced cleaning. It also separated break times and implemented staggered shift times.

The harvest department, which was hardest hit by the outbreak, now has a separate lunchroom.

"This is the challenge, as we all know, with this virus is anytime you bring groups of people together, the chance of infection happening go up, so the more we can spread people out the better protected they can be," said Deelstra.

Employees will also be screened before coming into the building.

"We are feeling positive going forward as much as could be done, has been done," he said.

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