Community transmission of COVID-19's new Delta strain on the community of Dubbo has resulted in the week-long closure of Fletcher International Exports with down-time used to vaccinate all staff.
"We will have a good percentage of our workforce vaccinated by the end of the week," said Roger Fletcher, who was left with no choice but to put a stop to the killing chain at one of Australia's largest abattoirs.
"We have no cases of Covid in our plant but there are some of our people who are close contacts and others who have had casual contact. The last thing we want is to have Covid in our facility.
"It was the common sense thing to do. We have got to look after our people. We have a responsibility to our community. After all we are the largest employer in Dubbo.
"In farmers' parlance we are closing the gate before the horses get out."
The week-long closure of the killing floor will also mean buyers for Fletcher won't be bidding in saleyards this week. Sheep ready for slaughter will remain on feed.
"We can handle the stock we've got. We've got a fair bit of country," Mr Fletcher said.
"But the Delta variant has completely changed things. It's not what it was. We talk to our customers all over the world and this Delta thing has completely blown the heads off places that were in control of COVID before - places like Singapore, Korea and especially Vietnam which was held up as a model for success. Meanwhile in the US cases are back up above 100,000 a day. We know more about this because we operate in the real world.
"We're doing this to keep our people safe and to look after our customers. Shutting down is best for everyone and we will get through this as fast as we can."
Meanwhile NSW Health reports that the state recorded 478 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Sunday night.
Of these locally acquired cases, 141 are linked to a known case or cluster - 120 are household contacts and 21 are close contacts - and the source of infection for 337 cases is under investigation.
Two new cases were acquired overseas in the 24 hours to 8pm last night and five previously reported cases were excluded following further investigation. This brings the total number of cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 13,789.
NSW Health has been notified of the deaths of eight people who had COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
To better deal with Delta there will be increased fines for Public Health Order breaches from today including $5,000 on the spot fine for breaching self-isolation rules; $5,000 on the spot fine for lying on a permit (already a criminal offence); $5,000 on the spot fine for lying to a contact tracer (already a criminal offence); $3,000 on the spot fine for breaching the two-person outdoor exercise/recreation rule; and $3,000 on the spot fine for breaching rules around entry into regional NSW for authorised work, inspecting real estate and travelling to your second home.
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