JBS gains approval to reopen beef plant in Brazil after COVID-19 outbreak

Labour prosecutors in Brazil have given JBS permission to reopen a beef plant in Rondônia.
calendar icon 10 June 2020
clock icon 2 minute read

Reuters reports that JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, received permission to reopen the plant despite 266 employees testing positive for COVID-19.

The company confirmed the ruling and said the plant was allowed to resume activities on Friday after the entire workforce there was tested for the novel coronavirus.

The plant employs 900 people in São Miguel do Guaporé, a town of only 23,000 inhabitants.
In the statement, Brazil’s labour prosecutor's office criticised the ruling that authorised the plant to reopen on 4 June, only days after a 27 May order to close it.

"The Rondônia labour and state prosecutors believe that it would be necessary to implement a more rigorous testing protocol before returning to activities," the statement said.

Prosecutors also called on JBS to remove all employees who had contact with sick workers while enforcing at least 1.5 meters of physical distancing on the plant's production lines.

JBS did not comment on the prosecutor's stance, saying only the plant was allowed to resume activities after an audit.

Citing a 6 June bulletin from municipal health authorities, labour prosecutors said 441 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the town where the plant is located, including at least 266 JBS workers.

More than 60 percent of the people infected in the town are employed by JBS, the prosecutors said, adding there were at least three COVID-19 deaths linked to JBS workers.

JBS confirmed the three deaths in the town but said the deceased, though family members of JBS workers, did not actually live with them.

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