COVID outbreak closes Simcoe auto parts plant leaving 1,000 people out of work
By J.P. AntonacciHealth & Safety Industry Automotive Manufacturing
More than 1,000 people are off work after Toyotetsu Canada shut down its auto parts plant in Simcoe due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The company told employees on Monday about 10 active cases at the plant, and on Tuesday Toyotetsu officials decided to suspend operations at the sprawling 530,000-square-foot facility.
“Toyotetsu Canada has agreed to voluntarily shut down operations and close the plant out of an abundance of caution and will reopen when it is safe to do so,” the company said in a media release issued Tuesday evening.
“Toyotetsu Canada will continue to work very closely and co-operatively with public health on any and all necessary outbreak measures to open as quickly and safely as possible.”
The plant – a major industrial employer in Norfolk County – makes a variety of car parts for regional Toyota and Lexus production lines.
Toyotetsu said 25 workers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The company did not respond to an email from The Spectator Wednesday asking if the affected workers will continue to be paid during the shutdown or will get help accessing employment insurance, and if the 10 workers who have tested positive are currently on paid sick leave.
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit spokesperson Kyra Hayes said the health unit has been “actively working with Toyotetsu to implement a public health management plan.”
The health unit did not order the closure, Hayes said.
“As per Toyotetsu’s public statement, they voluntarily agreed to cease production,” she said.
Down the road in Port Dover, popular snack shack The Arbor is closed after several staff members were identified as close contacts of confirmed COVID cases.
The century-old eatery closed for at least two weeks as of Monday to give affected employees time to self-isolate.
The temporary closure affects some two dozen employees, who are usually kept busy supplying locals and day-trippers with foot-long hotdogs, French fries and Golden Glow drinks.
The health unit is also monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak at the Hagersville location of gypsum wallboard manufacturer CGC.
There were 285 active cases of COVID-19 in Haldimand-Norfolk as of Wednesday morning.
By J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
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