Banham Poultry set to reopen factory following coronavirus outbreak

Banham Poultry, in Attleborough, is set to reopen following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Joe Gid

Banham Poultry, in Attleborough, is set to reopen following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Banham Poultry is set to reopen its Norfolk factory after experiencing the county’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Company bosses have confirmed the meat processing plant in Attleborough will welcome back staff on Monday, September 14.

The site had been closed since August 27, following a request from public authorities in relation to Covid-19 cases at the factory.

Over the past two weeks, all 800 on-site employees have been tested for the virus, with 127 returning positive results. Banham said 95pc of those who tested positive have been asymptomatic.

Shareholders met on Friday to discuss the future of the business and a decision was reached to begin welcoming workers back on Monday, less than three weeks after the first coronavirus cases were confirmed.

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020


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Blaine Van Rensburg, Banham Poultry’s managing director, said: “The past few weeks have been incredibly difficult but, after discussions with our shareholders, I look forward to welcoming back our 800 employees, so that we can begin to supply our loyal customers again.

“The safety of our staff and the local community remains our highest priority. We’d like to thank all of our employees, and our suppliers, for their support and understanding over the past couple of weeks.”

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In a statement, the company added it had “worked tirelessly” over the past fortnight to enhance safety measures at the factory.

It says it had introduced:

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

• Portals through which visitors and staff enter containing a dry disinfectant mist and thermal imaging for temperature monitoring

• A one-way walkway across the entire site

• Touch-activated hand sanitisers on all door handles

Mid Norfolk MP, George Freeman, has meanwhile called on the government to provide financial support for the struggling firm, which was said to be losing 2.5m per week.

Banham Poultry, in Attleborough, is set to reopen following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Denise

Banham Poultry, in Attleborough, is set to reopen following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

With the factory’s cutting room having been closed, more than 100,000 chickens were culled without being processed or sold to competitors at a significant loss.

The MP said he was working with ministers to try and resolve the situation, but on Thursday the government refused to confirm whether it was considering stepping in.

Mr Van Rensburg added: “We reiterate our call to the government to provide compensatory frameworks for businesses who, through no fault of their own, have had to shut down due to Covid-19.”

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