The protocols to limit and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in meat factories and processing facilities had been working for the past number of weeks, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1, the minister said at the start of the pandemic there were up to 1,100 confirmed cases in meat factories. Ireland was then the first country in Europe to introduce protocols for processors to control the spread of coronavirus, he said.

“Very extensive testing was done and because of that there were very few cases reported all the way through July, so the safety protocols that were put in place were working,” Minister Donnelly said.

He said actions such as temperature screening of workers and the introduction of masks and Perspex screens had all helped.


However, the minister admitted recent outbreaks in four plants were of concern. They have been a contributing factor in counties Laois, Kildare and Offaly having stricter public health measures introduced.

“For some reason in these four, but mainly three, meat factories there has been this very serious outbreak and the numbers are very high,” Donnelly admitted.

He said factories had been subject to the same rigorous inspection regime as restaurants and bars have been over the last eight weeks.

“Up until that point the protocols that were put in place, the inspections that were being done were working.”

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