RED DEER, ALBERTA – Olymel LP announced the temporary closure of the company’s hog slaughtering, cutting and deboning plant in Red Deer, Alberta after testing protocols, sanitary measures and a collaboration with Alberta Health Services failed to control a resurgence COVID-19 among plant employees. The company did not give a reopening date.

The company said all hog suppliers to the Red Deer plant were notified of the situation and all pending deliveries were suspended until further notice.

“After notifying the union, Olymel management drew up an orderly temporary closing plan for an indefinite period,” the company said. “Over the next few days, plant management will mobilize the staff necessary to cease operations and complete the facility closure as soon as possible. The sanitary measures will continue to be in effect at the plant during the shutdown and Olymel management will be in contact with officials at Alberta Health Services to continue working closely with this organization.”

According to UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse, 61 cases of COVID-19 were identified at the facility. In a letter to the Red Deer plant manager, the union requested that Olymel shut down the plant for two weeks to stop the spread of the virus.

Olymel said the company will continue ongoing investigations to determine what may have the outbreak of COVID-19 cases since Jan. 20.

“Olymel sincerely hopes that all employees at the Red Deer plant who have tested positive for Covid-19 soon regain their health,” the company said. “The company will follow up with all employees to ensure their quarantine period is being respected and will strongly encourage all staff to get tested before returning to work.”