Calls have been made by the CEO of Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) Danny McCoy for an “appropriate response” to the suggestion that meat factories with COVID-19 outbreaks should be closed.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland McCoy said: "The world does not stop because we have a local outbreak."

IBEC is the umbrella group which includes Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and represents business interests.

We're going to have to learn to live with the risk and not to stop things

There has been enhanced scrutiny of meat factories following the closure of four meat factories after outbreaks of COVID-19.

The outbreaks contributed to a local lockdown in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly, and the Government has suggested that there be blanket testing meat factory workers on a fortnightly basis.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has also said that in his opinion meat factories should close if there are positive cases in the plant.

McCoy said that in the case of large scale outbreaks a closure would be an appropriate response but added, “we're going to have to learn to live with the risk and not to stop things when cases arise".

Kildare Chilling

Kildare Chilling is the only slaughter plant out of the four factories with significant clusters in the three affected counties that has closed, and this has the most immediate impact on farmers.

It’s thought that there are up to 150 workers who have tested positive for the virus and it is thought that this number could increase further as that test results are returned.

There is some concern in the farming community that the closure of the plant could impact competition around beef and sheep prices.

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