President Donald Trump is expected to order US meat processing plants to remain open amid the coronavirus health crisis, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Trump plans to use the Defense Production Act to order the companies to keep production lines running as they are considered to be critical infrastructure.
It is not clear whether the order will apply to fish and seafood processing plants as well. No one in the White House press office was available for comment, although Gavin Gibbons, a spokesperson at the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) said, "it appears focused just on meat and poultry at this point."
The government will provide additional protective gear for plant employees in addition to guidance, the report said.
Trump is expected to sign the order amid fears some companies, including poultry giant Tyson, are considering only keeping 20 percent of their sites open.
Some local officials and labor unions in the United States have urged plant closures to prevent spread of the virus.
This comes as governments around the world grapple with the conundrum of how soon and to what extent crippled economies should be allowed to reopen.
Scallop and whitefish harvesting and processing group Blue Harvest Fisheries was forced to close down operations following cleaning operations after three workers at its New Bedford, Massachusetts processing plant tested positive for coronavirus.
Last week Canadian seafood processing giant High Liner Foods announced it had temporarily suspended all production at its Portsmouth, New Hampshire, facility after discovering coronavirus cases.
The spreading coronavirus is an unprecedented global crisis. IntraFish is dedicated to bringing you coverage from around the globe with our 24/7 news team in Europe, North America and Asia.
Both subscribers and non-subscribers can follow along with briefs on our Live Updates page here, and catch more analysis on the latest episodes of the IntraFish Podcast.