A Cargill meat processing plant is shown in Chambly, Que., south of Montreal, Sunday, May 10, 2020. The plant is closing temporarily after at least 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Another Cargill meat-processing plant closes after COVID-19 outbreak

171 workers were sent home last week as a preventative measure

A Cargill meat-processing plant south of Montreal announced it is closing its doors after at least 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19, even as schools across much of Quebec prepared to open theirs to students on Monday.

The outbreak in Chambly, Que. marks the second time the company has experienced a COVID-19 closure at one of its facilities in Canada.

A spokeswoman for the union representing the workers said the Cargill plant will close temporarily as of Wednesday so all its workers can be tested.

Roxane Larouche said 171 workers were sent home last week as a preventative measure, and 30 of them have tested negative. The testing is expected to last until Friday, and the plant will reopen once there are enough uninfected employees to run it safely.

Cargill said the 64 workers represent 13 per cent of the workforce at the plant. The company said three employees have recovered.

“Because the health and safety of Cargill employees remains our priority, we’ve decided to close our protein production factory in Chambly,” the company said, adding that it would continue to pay workers during the stoppage.

“Cargill is working in close collaboration with local health authorities and the union to test our employees as quickly as possible.”

READ MORE: ‘Numb and very lost’: Alberta meat plant reopens as memorial held for Cargill worker

The workplace had implemented safety measures for employees, including installing plexiglass between workers where possible, staggering arrival and departure times and providing masks, visors and safety glasses, Larouche confirmed.

A Cargill beef-packing plant in High River, Alta., reopened last Monday after a two-week shutdown.

More than 900 of 2,000 workers at that plant have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, some of Quebec’s children are preparing to return to class on Monday as the province moves ahead with a plan to reopen elementary schools and daycares outside the Montreal area.

Students will be subject to physical distancing, frequent handwashing and carefully co-ordinated school days spent in large part at their desks while school officials keep up with cleaning, disinfection and following public health guidelines.

Attendance isn’t mandatory, and two school boards told The Canadian Press that most of their students were staying home for now.

The province allowed most retail stores outside Montreal to open May 11, but pushed back the opening date for schools and other businesses in the hard-hit metropolis to May 25 as case numbers remained high.

As of Sunday morning, there were 67,996 COVID-19 cases, including 4,728 deaths, according to Canada’s top public health doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam. Some 47 per cent of cases have recovered, she said in a statement.

READ MORE: Feds to buy up surplus from Canadian agrifood producers as part of $252M investment

Over half of the country’s cases are in Quebec, which registered 142 new deaths on Sunday for a total of 2,928, as well as a caseload of over 37,700.

Other provinces are also taking small steps to reopen, albeit at a slower pace than the hardest-hit province.

Ontario allowed hardware stores and safety supply stores to reopen this weekend, while non-essential retail stores will be allowed to offer curbside pickup this week.

The province reported 35 more deaths related to the novel coronavirus and 294 more cases, which represents the lowest rate of growth since March, even as the province was dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak at Toronto Western Hospital.

The University Health Network said the new outbreak is on the hospital’s 9A Fell unit, which had previously been declared one of its “COVID negative units.”

The organization didn’t reveal how many cases are part of the new outbreak, but said that across its network, 83 staff members have tested positive for the virus from January to May 4.

Alberta is also planning to allow some retail stores to open this week, while New Brunswick’s stores, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and campgrounds started reopening Friday — but only if they could show they had a plan to meet guidelines for physical distancing, hand hygiene and allowing staff to remain home when ill.

In Prince Edward Island, there was some good news as the province’s chief health officer announced Friday that some physical distancing restrictions would be lifted, including an allowance for Mother’s Day hugs.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusfood security

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No parking on Thain Road, Shawnigan police remind

Warmer weather brings complaints near Cobble Hill quarry

No lifeguards this summer for Cowichan’s Fuller Lake, Arbutus Park; Crofton pool closed

Fears of risk to health and safety during COVID-19 pandemic to blame

You’ll have to pay to get on the bus again in Cowichan

Beginning June 1, fare collection and front door boarding started again

39 caught speeding through Cowichan school zones

On June 1, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP conducted speed enforcement in several school zones

Lake Cowichan firefighters douse blaze at Mayo Road

Sahtlam called in for mutual aid in abandoned shop and motorhome

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Drive-thru window smashed after suspect receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Most Read