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Brazil court reopens JBS chicken plant but orders company to guarantee social distancing

A Brazilian court has ordered JBS SA to keep 1.5 meters of distance between workers at its chicken processing plant in Ipumirim.

29 May 2020, at 11:31am

Reuters reports that a statement from the state labour prosecutor’s office on 28 May orders JBS to enforce physical distancing to protect workers at its chicken plant in Ipumirim. The court also stipulated that JBS should place workers on paid leave if they are suspected of having the new coronavirus, even if they are asymptomatic. The court ordered that workers should get a minimum of 14 days paid leave under these circumstances.

Operations at that JBS plant, which was ordered shut on 18 May by labour auditors, can only resume if the company complies with the measures, the statement said, citing the terms of the ruling.

"We took action to ensure that when the work returns at the plant, the company is obliged to meet these requirements," one of the prosecutors involved in the case told Reuters.

JBS said that its workers' health is its top priority and that it had adopted strict protocols to protect them from the virus, in line with government directives. It declined to comment on the ongoing legal case regarding its plant.

Labour auditors have powers to close the plant and apply fines, and prosecutors have a mandate to ask the court to order the company to comply with certain obligations or potentially face further penalties.

According to the labour auditors responsible for the inspection that resulted in the closing of the plant, 86 coronavirus cases had been confirmed at the JBS plant, representing almost 5 percent of the estimated 1,500 workers there.

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