CHAMBLY, Que. – A Cargill meat-processing plant south of Montreal announced it is closing its doors after at least 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19, even as schools across much of Quebec prepared to open theirs to students on Monday.
The outbreak in Chambly, Que. marks the second time the company has experienced a COVID-19 closure at one of its facilities in Canada.
A spokeswoman for the union representing the workers said the Cargill plant will close temporarily as of Wednesday so all its workers can be tested.
Roxanne Larouche said 171 workers were sent home last week as a preventative measure, and 30 of them have tested negative. The testing is expected to last until Friday, and the plant will reopen once there are enough uninfected employees to run it safely.
Cargill said the 64 workers represent 13 per cent of the workforce at the plant. The company said three employees have recovered.
“Because the health and safety of Cargill employees remains our priority, we’ve decided to close our protein production factory in Chambly,” the company said, adding that it would continue to pay workers during the stoppage.
“Cargill is working in close collaboration with local health authorities and the union to test our employees as quickly as possible.”
The workplace had implemented safety measures for employees, including installing plexiglass between workers where possible, staggering arrival and departure times and providing masks, visors and safety glasses, Larouche confirmed.
A Cargill beef-packing plant in High River, Alta., reopened last Monday after a two-week shutdown.
More than 900 of 2,000 workers at that plant have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
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