O’Brien Fine Foods suspends operations until August 24 and introduces regular testing

O’Brien Fine Foods has revealed that normal operations will remain suspended at its Co. Kildare facility for a two-week period until August 24, adding that it is introducing Covid-19 testing at 14-day intervals following two rounds of tests this week and next week.

The decision to halt operations was made last Thursday, when all operations were suspended during the two-week incubation period from August 4 to August 18. Today’s announcement will see the suspension last almost a further week until Monday, August 24.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said:

“Since the first cases of Covid-19 were identified in Ireland last February, we have operated with an abundance of caution and safety.

“In consultation with the Health Service Executive [HSE], we have taken what we believe are the most responsible actions at all times.”

Outlining the testing programme that it has in place, O’Brien Fine Foods said that, in line with public health guidance, the next round of employee testing – day seven testing – commences today, Tuesday, August 11.

This testing will be undertaken by HSE testers. We will also test on day 14 and at 14-day intervals thereafter. A further update on testing will be provided once results have been communicated to team members.

In terms of production, the firm said that normal operations will not resume for the 14-day incubation period, while all employees continue to be paid in full.

“We are adopting a slow, controlled and phased approach to reopening with normal operations due to resume from Monday, August 24.

“Minimal warehousing operations, as approved by the HSE, will continue at significantly reduced capacity levels.”

In terms of preparations, the firm said that, in line with public health guidance, it is “adopting a slow, controlled, and phased approach to the resumption of normal operations from August 24”.

As a result, the following decisions have been taken:
  • The firm will only resume full operations upon HSE approval;
  • Testing will continue while operational at 14-day intervals. Only those employees who have been approved by the HSE will return to work;
  • The company is moving to further amend the shift patterns of its processing teams to minimise engagement further;
  • The business “will further bolster our existing Covid-19 health and safety policy”, first introduced on March 9. “This includes intensifying existing measures and the introduction of new ones, such as arrangements for the safe transportation of all team members to and from work and daily/weekly completion of a return to work protocols by all team members in a range of languages.”

Continuing, a company representative said: “In consultation with the HSE, our warehousing facility and minimal related operations have been functioning at significantly reduced capacity levels to manage perishable goods.

“In the interests of our employees and wider public health, and in keeping with our decision to suspend normal processing operations at this time, we have decided at our expense to remove some perishable stock for safe disposal.

“This sudden spike is difficult to comprehend for all of us and we will continue to take every necessary action to address it in full,” the firm concluded.