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The cease and desist order will be in effect until Blue Harvest performs "enhanced cleaning and disinfection" and follows other preventive measures.

The measures include designating a Health and Safety officer to record staff temperatures at the beginning and end of each shift, requiring production line employees to wear face coverings and shields, and enacting social distancing guidelines.

“It is incumbent upon every business to be proactive in stemming the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace," New Bedford mayor Jon Mitchell said in a statement. "Most employers have been up to the challenge, and the city’s health department will continue to visit businesses, especially large employers, to ensure that all employees are being protected.”

Keith Decker, President of Blue Harvest Fisheries, said the company reported the first known-case of coronavirus in their facility health officials on April 14. The facility did not close down at that time.

"We were waiting for clarification from the Board of Health," Decker said. "At that particular point we were not instructed to shut the facility down."

Blue Harvest notified the employees that worked on the same shift as the three employees who contracted the virus. Those employees will not be required to self quarantine.

"It's kind of a challenge when you think of it from the perspective that the U.S. consumers need the critical essential of food supply," Decker said. "[We're trying] to balance that with keeping the food supply flowing at the same time making sure employees stay safe and healthy."

The cease and desist order comes over a week after a group of fish plant workers, known as Pescando Justicia, sent a letter to nearly 30 companies (including Blue Harvest, although the company claims it never received it) urging them to implement better worker safety standards. There were complaints of a lack of personal protective equipment and disinfectants as well as overcrowding in facilities.

Blue Harvest says it hopes the facility can be reopen on Monday.


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