LONDON, ONTARIO – Cargill confirmed its protein processing facility in London, Ontario, will be temporarily shut down starting April 13 after 82 employees of the plant tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The company is encouraging any employees who are sick or have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days to stay home. It will offer 80 hours of paid leave for any absence related to COVID-19. Cargill is also making testing available to all its employees at the facility.

“This was a difficult decision for our team who are operating an essential service and are committed to delivering food for families across Canada and ensuring the resilience of our supply chain,” said Derek Hill, general manager for Cargill’s London, Ontario, protein facility. “But ultimately, our employees’ safety and well-being come first. They are everyday heroes on the front lines of our food system.”

Hill added that Cargill is working with local health departments, public health officials and other strategic partners to facilitate vaccinations as soon as supplies are available.   

The company also mentioned the safety protocols it already had in place including temperature testing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, face coverings, screening between employee stations, prohibiting visitors, adopting social distancing practices where possible and offering staggered breaks. Cargill said all these protocols will remain when full operations resume. 

In February, Cargill had an outbreak of COVID-19 at its High River, Alberta, beef processing facility.