VanDrie Group gives update on Covid-19 situation
Covid-19 continues to hold the Netherlands in its grip. It has done for over a year, and not only in this country. Our own companies have been actively and stringently anticipating the situation for over a year. And things were going well. Until the situation changed at veal processor ESA in Apeldoorn last week. This was a betrayal of the responsibility we feel to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for our employees and third parties operating within our companies.
On Thursday, 22 April, 2021, ESA’s slaughter activities were shut down after an increase in employees who tested positive, mainly in the deboning and special products division. All employees were tested. Of the 328 employees tested, 296 employees tested negative and 32 employees positive. 9.7 percent of the employees therefore turned out to be infected.
Our policy dictates that employees with symptoms must absolutely stay at home and get tested. Employees should also be quarantined if family members and/or travelling companions test positive. Various stories are circulating in the press. For example that employees with symptoms were being forced to go to work or that employees had re-entered the production process after testing positive. We categorically reject such suggestions. It is true that a few employees went to their lockers after testing to pick up personal belongings and then left immediately. This should not have happened, but due to all the commotion, and to our regret, it did.
In recent days we have been in intensive contact with various authorities such as the GGD, NVWA, Inspectorate SZW and the North and East Gelderland Safety Region. Within this context, ESA announced the measures taken to promote a safe and healthy working environment. The decision as to whether ESA can resume full operations is in the hands of said organisations. We do not currently have any clarity about this. ESA will therefore not carry out any production activities on Monday and Tuesday.
What further impact will this have?
In addition to ESA, we also have two other meat processing companies in the municipality of Apeldoorn, namely Ekro and Ameco. Despite the fact that, according to our monitoring, these two companies have the situation under control and are also low on the so-called incident ladder used by authorities, they are now definitely on the radar of those same authorities. In recent days, we have taken various measures such as preventive testing of employees.
In order to exercise all due caution, we have decided to cancel the slaughter activities for Ekro and Ameco on Monday, 26 April. Other activities, such as processing and forwarding, will continue on Monday. This was coordinated with the GGD and the Safety Region. Due to King's Day, only a few activities are planned at Ekro and Ameco on Tuesday. A so-called ‘inspection’ will take place on Wednesday 28 April. On that day, inspectors from the NVWA, the Inspectorate SZW and the GGD will visit the three companies to assess whether the measures taken have been effective. Later that day, a horizontal consultation of the various government agencies will take place. A decision will be taken there on whether the companies can re-start their activities on Thursday 29 April 2021.
Since Thursday morning 29 April, regular work has resumed at Ekro, ESA and Ameco.