May 20, 2020 / 2:45 PM / in 6 days

German abattoir restarting work after coronavirus shutdown

HAMBURG, May 20 (Reuters) - German abattoir and meat processor Westfleisch said on Wednesday it is resuming production at its plant in Coesfeld which was closed earlier in May after an outbreak of coronavirus.

Labour Minister Hubertus Heil also said on Wednesday that Germany will tighten up rules on abattoirs, banning the subcontracting of meatpacking workers through employment agencies after a rash of outbreaks.

The new rules were agreed after more than 600 coronavirus cases were reported among food and meatpacker workers.

German abattoirs and meatpackers make widespread use of east European workers, with allegations that cramped sleeping accommodation and slack anti-coronavirus precautions such as transporting workers in packed buses helped spread the disease in some companies.

Westfleisch said on Wednesday German authorities monitored a test slaughtering of 1,500 pigs at its abattoir in Coesfeld and approved its working processes and corona hygiene precautions.

The company will on Friday use about 30% of the normal slaughtering capacity of about 9,000 pigs daily and will increase capacity usage in stages.

Westfleisch said previously it will give direct jobs to some 350 contract workers from employment agencies, take over rental agreements for their accommodation, and organize its own bus transport. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Angus MacSwan)

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