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158 Workers Test Positive for Coronavirus at Huge U.K. Chicken Producer in Wales

As the government moves to relax lockdown, workers in vulnerable industries are at greater risk

Chicken on a production line
Meat processors harbour dangerous conditions for coronavirus transmission
Wrightfield Manufacture

One of the U.K.’s largest food producers shuts down a factory

A huge U.K. chicken plant has shut down in Anglesey, Wales, after 158 workers tested positive for coronavirus, according to the BBC. The 2 Sisters plant in Llangefni has now instructed all 560 staff to self-isolate for 14 days.

Meat plants and factories became coronavirus hotspots in the U.S. much sooner than in the U.K., with the cool, humid, tightly packed conditions making social distancing impossible and exacerbating transmission of the novel coronavirus. The workforce, largely made up of immigrant workers on precarious zero hour contracts mediated by agencies, are often unable to avoid work when unwell, further extending the problem.

While U.S. media attention often turns to worker welfare at meat plants and factories, U.K. meat discourse has, up to now, largely focussed on animal welfare and its ramifications for eating meat, or not. As more meat plants are forced to close — especially as lockdown measures ease — COVID-19 may force greater attention to be paid to the people who produce the meat, and the sacrifice of rights and protections that make it as cheap as the intensive farming that produces it.

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