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2020.04.07 18:00

Lithuania's food industry asks for quarantine exemptions, warns of chaos

BNS, LRT.lt2020.04.07 18:00

Representatives of Lithuania's food industry asked the government for special quarantine rules, saying that disruptions in food production could result in “general chaos”.

Food processing workers should be routinely tested for Covid-19 and exempted from requirements to quarantine entire factories in cases of individual infections, industry representatives told the country's president and the agriculture minister during a video conference last Friday.

Read more: Coronavirus interrupts decommissioning work at Lithuania's Ignalina NPP

“There are four or five companies in the meat sector that delivers fresh meat to most Lithuanian shoppers and supermarkets. If one of them shuts down, this means supply falls by 20 percent,” Egidijus Mackevičius, the president of the Lithuanian Association of Meat Processors, told BNS.

“This could result in exaggerated reactions from the public, another wave of panic buying, violations of quarantine and general chaos," he said, adding that companies could be given more freedom to decide how to quarantine their workers.

Agriculture Minister Andrius Palionis agreed it might be impracticable to quarantine entire factories if one worker is diagnosed with Covid-19, saying the measure could be limited to individual shifts.

“During the discussion, there were ideas that perhaps the [food] processing industry could be put under the same rules as infection hospitals, workers would use maximum protection,” Palionis told BNS.

He said consultations with the Health Ministry would be needed before deciding on the exemptions.

Palionis also suggested that testing might be made available to food processing workers, so that they wouldn't need to self-isolate for 14 days after coming into contact with someone infected.