Teys Australia abattoir that told COVID-positive staff to keep working amid outbreak announces temporary shutdown
· The Teys meatworks at Naracoorte had told asymptomatic workers with COVID to turn up for shifts
· 140 workers are now infected
· The plant will be shut until at least Monday
By Nick Harmsen, ABC News Australia
Jan 13, 2022
A South Australian meatworks where COVID-positive employees were instructed to continue working has temporarily closed its doors.
The Teys meatworks at Naracoorte in the state's South East has been the site of a major outbreak, with 140 people infected.
On Sunday, the abattoir's general manager wrote to staff requiring them to turn up to work on Monday even if they had tested positive to COVID-19, unless they were feeling unwell.
SA Health later confirmed that in order to preserve food security, "a small group of critical staff" at the plant who had COVID-19 but were asymptomatic had been approved to continue working in an isolated area.
The exemption to continue operating with COVID-positive staff reflected a similar exemption granted to a disability services provider.
The company said none of its workers had been forced to work, and that they had been specifically instructed not to work if unwell.
On Thursday afternoon, a Teys spokesman confirmed the company had shut down the Naracoorte plant with a view to reopening it on Monday.
One meatworker, who tested positive, said the decision to keep the plant operating had been "insane".
"The other staff that I've spoken to, they're bloody angry about it," the worker told the ABC on the condition of anonymity.
"They have a duty to us, to keep us safe, and I feel they've failed to do that for us and everyone else in the company."
Naracoorte-Lucindale Council has 432 active COVID cases, according to SA Health data. The council area has an estimated population of 8,574 people.
Close contacts approved to work across critical industries ...