The company produces a third of all poultry products consumed in the UK
On May 6, 2020, Eric Ripert, one of the world’s
chicken processing plant that has contracts with KFC, Tesco and Marks & Spencer has suspended production and closed due to a coronavirus outbreak.
The 2 Sisters Company has closed the plant for two weeks, saying it was to demonstrate “how seriously we take this issue”.
Data released by Public Health Wales (PHW) reveals 51 confirmed cases at 2 Sisters in Llangefni on Anglesey, with more than 200 people said to be self-isolating.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething admitted the outbreak was a “concern”.
He said it “reiterates the importance of social distancing and hand hygiene”.
More than one third of the 560 employees at the chicken processing plant were self-isolating, while the company had introduced thermal temperature checks and employed marshalls to ensure social distancing was maintained.
2 Sisters – which also supplies food to major supermarkets such as Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – said “the health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues is ultimately the thing that matters most at our business”.
“In light of the current Covid-19 cases at our Llangefni site, we have decided to take the necessary action to clearly demonstrate how seriously we take this issue by doing the right thing.
“Doing the right thing means from today [18 June] we will temporarily suspend production at our Llangefni site with immediate effect for a period of 14 days.
“We will not tolerate any unnecessary risks – however small – for our existing loyal workforce at the facility.”
The 2 Sisters Food Group, which includes brands such as Fox’s Biscuits and Holland’s Pies, is one of the largest food producers in the UK, producing about one third of all the poultry products eaten each day in the UK.
There were 11 confirmed new Covid-19 cases in Anglesey on Wednesday – the most in any Welsh county – and the health minister, is “concerned” the outbreak will lead to more cases.
“Given that this is a closed setting in which these people would have been working, I’m obviously concerned that we may well see more confirmed cases of coronavirus,” Mr Gething told the Welsh government’s daily briefing.
Mr Dething says the outbreak “reiterates the importance of social distancing and appropriate hygiene measures.”
He added the outbreak “reiterates the fact that even with a low prevalence of coronavirus, it hasn’t gone.”
“It also reiterates the importance of our test, trace, protect system – and that people really do need to follow the advice that they’re given on getting a test, and on self isolating.”
PHW said it was “working in partnership” with 2 Sisters, Anglesey council, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, the Health and Safety Executive and the Food Standards Agency to “manage the incident”.
“We are working in close collaboration with the employer and Anglesey council, and our priority is to bring this outbreak to a swift conclusion,” said Dr Christopher Johnson.
It remains unclear why it has taken the government more than two months to make face coverings compulsory on public transport and called for the policy to be extended to all places where social distancing is not possible.
2 Sisters thanked authorities for their “advice, scientific knowledge and support”.
“We are a responsible company with people at its core. Without our people we are nothing,” added its company statement.
“Our sole focus now is to ensure we support all our colleagues through this time and look forward to operating safely and securely in 14 days’ time.”
Paddy McNaught, the regional organiser for the union Unite, which represents the majority of the workforce in question, said the number of cases of coronavirus at the factory had risen “significantly” in the past few days.
“In fairness, the company, they have tried to work with us to provide a safe working environment, where social distancing – as best as it can – takes place,” he said.
But the union official added that production line work at the plant mean adhering to a 2m distancing rule had been “virtually impossible”.
He went on to say that the union would be working with the company to make sure the factory had a professional deep clean before workers were allowed back at the site.
In Wales, employers are required by law to make sure workers can socially distance while in the workplace.
They must do everything they can to keep employees 2m (6ft) apart or face a fine of up to £120.
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