Eden Valley Poultry Plant reopens, COVID testing to continue over holidays
HALIFAX -- The Eden Valley Poultry Plant in Berwick, N.S. has reopened ahead of schedule.
The plant shut down earlier this month after an outbreak of COVID-19. This week, some of the 400 employees returned to the plant after public health approved a reopening plan.
"We're very comfortable this is a low-risk environment," said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia. "The reason we've done this is because of some significant animal welfare issues with the poultry that needed to be processed. As well as there was evolving supply issues of chicken and turkeys."
Six employees previously tested positive for the virus but health officials say there has been no community spread connected to the outbreak.
"Having the plant open a little early has been a boon to the farmers and it's good for the employees there I'm sure," said Berwick Mayor Don Clarke. "It's been good for the town too because we did notice last week, I guess when we first had cases in the school and in the plant, that things slowed down in the town."
In a statement on their website, Eden Valley says the approval to reopen the processing facility with reduced capacity was granted with the understanding that the plant will continue to follow stringent health and safety measures.
The company says the temporary operating model will provide a safe and healthy environment for employees while ensuring chickens and turkeys are humanely processed.
As we inch closer to Christmas, Nova Scotia health officials say asymptomatic testing will be available throughout the holiday season across the province.
"Testing will be maintained over the holidays. Primary Assessment Centres are still open and in the lab we still continue to have a 24/7 operation," said Dr. Todd Hatchette, Nova Scotia Health's chief of microbiology.
Pop-up rapid testing sites will also continue into the New Year for those 16 and over. The locations of the sites will be announced 24 hours in advance.
"If you get more comfortable getting a test before you visit some friends during the holidays that's quite reasonable, but you still need to follow the public health guidelines in terms of size restrictions," said Hatchette.
Testing will also continue over the holidays in New Brunswick.
"Vitalite and Horizon will still be offering testing at all of their sites but I think during Christmas day they're just going to have shorter hours," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
In P.E.I., COVID-19 drop in testing sites will be moving to holiday hours to give staff a break and will be closed on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
"There's really just two days where our regular drop in is closed but we do have the ability to test people if it's necessary on those two days," said Marion Dowling, P.E.I.’s chief of nursing.