Covid-hit chicken factory given all-clear to reopen

A number of workers at the 2 Sisters processing plant in Coupar Angus returned for staff training on Monday.

Covid-hit chicken factory given all-clear to reopen SNS Group

A coronavirus-hit chicken factory in Perthshire has been given the all-clear to restart production.

A number of workers at the 2 Sisters processing plant in Coupar Angus returned for staff training on Monday after being ordered to self-isolate for two weeks in response to a Covid-19 outbreak.

NHS Tayside’s Incident Management Team (IMT) said it will continue to review progress, but “supported” the firm’s plan to fully reopen on Tuesday following risk assessments by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and Environmental Health (EH).

Dr Emma Fletcher, associate director of public health and chair of the IMT, said: “I would like to thank all of the 2 Sisters factory workers and their families for complying with the self-isolation advice, which is so important in preventing further transmission of the virus in the community.”

On August 17, the factory suspended operations following a cluster of nine positive Covid-19 cases.

All workers, along with their households, were ordered to quarantine until August 31 in an effort to “prevent further spread of the infection in the community”.

Within the space of two weeks, the outbreak has risen to 199 cases. A total of 173 workers have tested positive, as well as 26 community contacts.

The health board said additional measures have been put in place at the factory to ensure physical distancing. Further hygiene measures have also been implemented.

HSE, FSS and EH will continue to work closely with the company’s management. FSS will also remain on site to monitor the reopening arrangements.

Dr Fletcher added: “The IMT considered the risk assessments and were satisfied that the factory should be able to reopen from today, Monday, August 31. 

“The majority of staff will be able to return from today, however, those who have tested positive, or have been identified as being in contact with a positive case, must follow the specific self-isolation guidance they have been given and not return to work until their period of isolation is over.” 

Despite the factory’s green light to reopen, the health board said Tayside “remains in a heightened state of vigilance”.

Due to the outbreak – which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described as a “significant cluster” – indoor visiting at care homes has been paused across the region until at least Friday. The situation will be reviewed again later this week.