Blue Harvest Fisheries plans to reopen its New Bedford seafood processing plant today after thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the facility.

The city's Board of Health on Thursday night issued a cease and desist order to Blue Harvest after several employees at the plant tested positive for COVID-19. The closure was ordered to remain in effect until 72 hours after the cleaning took place, according to The Standard Times.

Blue Harvest President and CEO Keith Decker told SeafoodSource that a first employee,  who was on medical leave, tested positive on April 14. A second employee tested positive April 20. A third case was suspected, Decker said. In response, he said Blue Harvest “immediately notified the city and Board of Health proactively.”

Decker said Blue Harvest had already arranged for a third-party contractor to sanitize the facility prior to the Board of Health action, and that cleaning took place on Thursday.

As a food production facility, the plant is an "essential business" allowed to keep running during the COVID-19 state of emergency in Massachusetts. The facility has been processing groundfish, including haddock, and the scallop season is just beginning, Decker said.

Blue Harvest, a rapidly-growing and vertically integrated operation, has established a 25-point protocol to ensure the health and safety of its employees, Decker said. The plant is one of the newest seafood processing facilities in the region.

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