Curds cut off today as St. Albert cheese factory deals with COVID-19 outbreak

The factory was closed Sat., Feb. 27, but the store was open as the St. Albert Co-Op continued to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak among three of its 180 employees. In the morning, there were about as many masked and shielded employees in the store as there were customers... although it was anybody's guess if fear of COVID-19 or dreadful driving conditions kept others away. Van Dusen photo, Nation Valley News

Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News

ST. ALBERT — The manager of Eastern Ontario’s premier cheese factory and sales outlet is “shocked and disappointed” that three cases of COVID-19 have been identified at the facility.

“It’s something you would never want to happen,” said Eric Lafontaine in confirming the St-Albert Cheese factory and store will be closed today (Feb. 26) as the Eastern Ontario Health Unit tests all 180 employees.

Lafontaine emphasized the cooperative is willingly taking the action because employee health is of utmost concern. The three workers who tested positive are experiencing only mild symptoms which he sees as a good sign… however, any potential spread must be stopped.

While the popular factory store will reopen Saturday, the production plant will remain closed for at least three more days.  EOHU’s Dr. Paul Roumeliotis confirmed an investigation is underway, including what C-19 strain might be implicated.

Under the circumstances, the fresh curds which have made the factory famous won’t be available tomorrow nor will fresh blocks of cheese.

Lafontaine said St. Albert’s many packaged products are safe with employees routinely following all the protocols applying to sanitizing and personal protective gear, as well as regular temperature checks.

He lamented the fact 11 months have gone by without any incidents at the factory and suddenly three cases turn up in one week. He suggested the multi-million dollar operation with sales outlets across Eastern Ontario will be back in full operation soon.

The factory revealed the situation Thursday afternoon on Facebook, stating the goal was to contain the spread and reevaluate the situation.

Related:

Four ‘variant of concern’ cases pop up in EOHU region, health unit says; three at St-Albert Cheese

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