HAMBURG (REUTERS) – A German abattoir at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak will be permitted to resume meat packing and processing on Friday (July 17), after a new health and hygiene concept was approved, the authorities said.
The Toennies abattoir was closed in mid-June after about 1,500 workers tested positive for Covid-19 but was permitted to resume slaughtering animals on Thursday.
The virus outbreak in turn caused a lockdown for 600,000 people in the surrounding Guetersloh region, which is now lifted.
The huge meatpacking and processing section of the Toennies plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck in North Rhine-Westphalia will be allowed resume processing and packing pig meat in a test phase on Friday, the local government authority Rheda-Wiedenbrueck said.
Some 2,714 personnel will be permitted to resume work in the processing section of the plant, the authority said.
The new hygiene regime includes changes to the plant’s ventilation system, separation of workstations through curtains, compulsory wearing of face masks, two coronavirus tests a week for all production personnel and inspections of personnel accommodation if it is provided for them.
The plant normally slaughters and processes around 14 per cent of Germany’s pigs, and the shutdown has caused a sharp fall in German pork prices.