UPDATE | The factory plans to reopen March 1.
The St-Albert Cheese Co-op in eastern Ontario is temporarily closed as it deals with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Three employees have tested positive at the factory in St. Albert, Ont., over the past week.
The mobile unit of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) was sent to the cheese factory Thursday to screen all 180 staff members for COVID-19. As a result, both the store and factory will be temporarily closed for screening.
"We believe we have no choice if we want to stop the spread, and especially we're concerned about the health of our workers," said general manager Éric Lafontaine.
"We're shocked. We're disappointed, because you'd never want that to happen."
Lafontaine said the three workers who have tested positive are only experiencing mild symptoms, "so that at least that's a good sign for now."
Product still safe, says director
Lafontaine assured customers that there was no transmission of the virus to any of their products, as the food production facility already has a number of health and safety measures in place.
Workers sanitize their hands and surfaces and wear personal protective equipment, Lafontaine said, while also getting their temperature checked before starting their shifts.
He said they were closing the plant out of caution, given the threat posed by more contagious variants.
"It's been 11 months since the COVID started and we never had any case. It's just unfortunate that we [just got our first case and] now we have three cases in the same week," Lafontaine said.
The store will reopen on Saturday, but the factory will stay closed several days after so that management has time to get test results back and evaluate the situation, Lafontaine said.
"We believe with all the measures in place, the spread should not be that big and we should be [able] to continue the operation really soon," Lafontaine said.
When asked about the situation at St-Albert during a briefing Thursday, EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis offered few details.
"We aware of the situation and we're investigating that right now," he said, adding the EOHU would likely provide additional information Friday.