Gelderland slaughterhouse closed after 45 coronavirus diagnoses

The Vion slaughterhouse and meat processor in Groenlo, Gelderland was ordered closed on Wednesday after 45 of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus, the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA announced. Less than half of the slaughterhouse's employees have been tested so far.

The NVWA ordered its veterinarians who worked at the slaughterhouse to stop working because their safety cannot be guaranteed. "Because animals cannot be slaughtered without the presence of a NVWA vet, the slaughter process in the slaughterhouse has been completely halted," the NVWA said. 

So far, 212 of the employees were tested for the coronavirus. Another 388 have yet to be tested. Those who test positive will have to self isolate at home until they are completely symptom-free for at least 24 hours, and their housemates will have to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

The food safety authority reported the situation to the Inspectorate for Social Affairs and Employment. It will consult with the Inspectorate, health service GGD, and the company itself to see how activities can resume in a safe manner, the NVWA said.

The Netherlands is not the first country to close a slaughterhouse due to the coronavirus. Slaughterhouses in France, Germany and the United States were also forced to close, reports. Slaughterhouse workers often work very close together, and sometimes in poor ventilation - prime conditions for the coronavirus to spread quickly. 

Trade union FNV is not surprised that the Vion slaughterhouse was ordered closed. The union previously warned that companies in the meat processing sector are not adhering to RIVM rules, John Klijn of FNV said to AD. An FNV survey showed that 80 percent of employees in this sector cannot change clothes safely when the start and finish their shift. 30 percent said they can't work 1.5 meters from their colleagues, and over 70 percent said their colleagues are not following the rules..