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Covid-19: Germany’s largest pork plant re-opened

Various parts of Germany’s largest slaughter plant have been allowed to re-open. That means that the end of the 4-week closure has drawn to an end for the slaughterhouse by Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, North Rhine Westphalia state.

The slaughterplant was closed because over 1,500 employees had been found infected with Covid-19. The partial lifting of the closure, which was communicated by the Rheda-Wiedenbrück city council, is the result of coordination talks between all authorities involved and the company and mayor Theo Mettenborg.

Slaughter and blood processing

Last Wednesday, the measure means that for the subsidiaries Reisinger (slaughter, 597 employees) and Acontex (blood processing, 7 employees), the closure was lifted. Both divisions are separated from others within the plant – both in terms of distance as well as in terms of type of work. On top, a decent climate control system has been guaranteed here. In addition, the blood processing division area employs only a small number of employees, which is why the city administration thinks the risk of infection is classified as low.

In addition, the deboning and further processing divisions were also given the go-ahead for a restart, and as from Friday, July 17, an additional 2,714 employees were allowed to go on-site. A total of 1,387 is focused on finisher pig deboning, 415 are working in sow deboning, and 912 employees have related jobs. During the initial trial runs, up to 10,000 pigs can be slaughtered and processed, the city of Rheda-Wiedenbrück wrote.

In case these initial slaughterings give reason for optimism, then most likely Tönnies will be allowed to slaughter higher amounts next week.

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The Tönnies slaughterplant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück.
The Tönnies slaughterplant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück.

Revised hygiene concept

The company has significantly expanded and revised hygiene concept, which provides the basis for the subsidiaries to be able to resume operation under the agreed hygiene requirements. This includes:

  • Frequent checks of housing and transport
  • Employee address database
  • Testing, at least 2x per week
  • Safety training
  • Health check-ups
  • New canteen policy
  • Standard walkways in the plant
  • Mouthpieces will be compulsory
  • 1.5m distance between workers
  • Frequent controls

According to the website n-tv.de, the slaughter of up to 10,000 pigs is to begin, and the cutting operation will then also start on Friday.

Read more about pigs and Covid-19 in our special page

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