GÜTERSLOH, GERMANY — Tönnies Group announced last week that it would reopen its facility that was shut down in mid-June following a major COVID-19 outbreak where more than 1,500 workers tested positive.
The facility, which resides in Gütersloh in the western part of Germany, was allowed to resume processing animals on July 17, following approval by local officials. Since reopening, Tönnies said it has been able to slaughter approximately 8,000 pigs per day. According to a Reuters report, the facility processes 14% of the pigs in Germany.
Along with reopening the plant, the German company has outlined new measures of how it plans to handle the virus going forward.
Tönnies said it will have a new ventilation system with decentralized HEPA filtration devices installed in the plant’s disassembly area. The company said the air is changed 2.5 times per hour and will reduce the circulating air in the room. The filter systems have been put into operation in the past few weeks at the plant and have been tested with German officials.
All production employees will be tested for COVID-19 weekly, in mobile units at the entrance of the plant. The company will also have distancing measures for employees and prevent strict separation of employees in different departments.
Addtionally, Tönnies said it will start to hire 1,000 employees that live near the facility by Sept. 1, 2020. By the end of 2020, the goal is to have all employees live in close proximity to the complex. The company plans to lease around 400 residential spaces for future employees.
“We are developing our company for the future,” said Clemens Tönnies, director of Tönnies Group. “The immediate program is the starting signal. It defines how we hire contract workers directly, create new living space for them as quickly as possible, improve existing ones even further and ensure that we protect our employees in the pandemic in order to continue producing high-quality meat and sausage products.”