Chocolate factory to stay open after coronavirus outbreak

Director of Norfolk Public Health Dr Louise Smith, and right, Kinnerton in Fakenham. 

Director of Norfolk Public Health Dr Louise Smith, and right, Kinnerton in Fakenham. - Credit: Norfolk County Council / Archant

Norfolk chocolate factory Kinnerton will remain open following a number of coronavirus cases among staff.

Michael Artt, site director at the Oxborough Lane, Fakenham, factory said they had no plans to close down, and they were doing everything possible to make the workplace safe for employees. 

Mr Artt said on Sunday 15 staff members were testing positive for Covid-19.

He said: "The factory will remain open. There has been a limited effect on production, but we have been able to mitigate the impact to customers by transferring some packing work to our sister factories. 

"As far as changes are concerned we continue to review our protocols on a continuous basis and make any necessary changes to ensure a Covid-safe environment. 

"The health and safety of our employees is a top priority."

The Kinnerton factory in Fakenham. Picture: Archant

The Kinnerton factory in Fakenham. Picture: Archant

Christopher Cushing, North Norfolk District Council's  councillor for the Fakenham ward of Lancaster North and Conservative group leader, said he was "extremely concerned" about the recent rise of Covid-19 in the town. 

Mr Cushing said: "There is evidence of transmission across the community. In response the district council has deployed its Covid support officers in the town in recent days. In addition it has prepared posters for the town centre and businesses which are able to remain open to warn residents of the heightened risk."

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Mr Cushing said it was important to follow the government's stay-at-home message, and to adhere to social distancing if people did have to go out. 

Christopher Cushing, the new Conservative leader for North Norfolk District Council. Picture: SUPPLI

Christopher Cushing, Lancaster North ward councillor on North Norfolk District Council. - Credit: Archant

He added: "One positive note is that the Fakenham surgery has been one of the first start delivering vaccinations in the county, with other venues in North Norfolk commencing this week. This will help gradually improve the situation in the town and area."

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's public heath director, said a number of Kinnerton workers had tested positive for the virus since early November and testing had been underway among the workforce.

She said: "Those who tested positive and their close contacts were advised to self-isolate. We are working closely with the business owners, colleagues from NNDC and King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, and Public Health England to investigate and make recommendations should there be any additional measures that could be put in place to prevent spread of the virus amongst this workforce.

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

“As a precautionary measure, we have tested a sample of staff on site to determine whether or not there are further asymptomatic cases and to take appropriate action as needed.”

An NNDC spokesman said Fakenham had seen a rolling seven-day peak of 74 cases on January 2 which fell to 55 cases on January 5. 

The spokesman said some of the town's businesses had reported staff having the virus - not all of which are in care settings.