Poultry processors 2 Sisters Food Group has suspended production at its Llangefni plant in Anglesey, North Wales, following confirmation of a cluster of coronavirus cases in workers linked to the site.
Public Health Wales says more than 50 cases have been recorded, and it is reported that about 200 people are self-isolating out of a total staff of 560.
This follows confirmation of the first case of Covid-19 in a worker at the factory on 28 May, and comes despite the introduction of Perspex screens and social-distancing policies.
2 Sisters had also introduced temperature checks on employees, using thermal imaging.
According to a spokesman, the company is determined to “do the right thing” in closing Llangefni for two weeks. “We will not tolerate any unnecessary risks – however small – for our existing loyal workforce at the facility,” he said.
“We have worked in close collaboration in the past week with Public Health Wales, Anglesey Council, the Health & Safety Executive, FSA and the Unite union, which have all offered great advice, scientific knowledge and support.”
Llangefni is the only large whole bird manufacturing facility in the UK with a capability to handle carcass weights above 3.5kg, aimed at food service customers.
It is understood that disruption to the supply chain will be minimal, as birds will be redirected to other 2 Sisters’ sites until the plant reopens in early July.
The Isle of Anglesey County Council said it would be providing suitable sites in Llangefni and Holyhead to set up testing units for 2 Sisters employees.
Council leader Llinos Medi, said: “With a significant number of confirmed coronavirus cases among employees, this is a huge priority, not only for us on Anglesey, but for the whole of North Wales.
“Our staff are working closely with colleagues in Public Health Wales, which is leading on this outbreak, and taking positive action to bring it to an end as soon as possible.”
Paddy McNaught, regional officer for the Unite union, told BBC Wales: “It’s very frightening for the staff on site seeing all their colleagues being off work and so many people proving positive for having Covid-19.”