GUELPH, ONTARIO – After temporarily idling production at the Cargill beef processing plant in Guelph on Dec. 17 after 82 employees at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), the company plans to reopen on Dec. 29.

“This decision comes after careful deliberations among Cargill leadership and discussions with the Union and local health authorities,” said Daniel Sullivan, director of corporate communications for Cargill.

As of Dec. 17, 129 people were self-isolating – some were positive for the virus, others had come in close contact with infected individuals. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health recommended self-isolation as a precaution. Health officials are concerned about community spread of the virus because of the Cargill outbreak.

As operations resume, shifts will be varying in length.

The facility will be closed in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday, Jan. 1. At this time, the plant will run on Jan. 2.

“Employees who report to work will be paid in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement,” Sullivan said. “As noted in our previous statement, our employees will be paid during this week’s idle period in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.”

The company has been working closely with local health officials to ensure prevention, testing, cleaning and quarantine protocols are followed within the facilities. Safety measures like temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, face coverings, screening between employee stations, prohibiting visitors, adopting social distancing practices where possible, offering staggered breaks and reducing carpooling have been in place for months and will remain in place when the plant resumes full operations.

“We remain focused on keeping people healthy and delivering safe food to people across Canada,” Sullivan said.