THOMASVILLE, GA. — Flowers Foods, Inc. is temporarily ceasing production at its Tucker, Ga., baking plant because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Flowers said it expects the plant to resume operations on April 27.
The decision to close the facility followed an “increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the bakery as well as self-quarantining over the past few days,” Flowers said.
Flowers said the increase occurred despite numerous precautionary measures the company had introduced, including temperature screenings for workers entering the plant, enhanced daily sanitation and cleaning in common areas and frequently touched surfaces and mandatory self-quarantining for anyone who has come in close contact with individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have exhibited symptoms of the illness.
Tucker is located just northeast of Atlanta in DeKalb County. Flowers said the county has the third-most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. As of April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, reported 13,012 cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, the 11th highest total in the nation.
The Tucker plant bakes mostly frozen, non-retail specialty and foodservice bread and buns. The company said the closing will have “only a limited impact on its ability to service the market” as other plants in the company’s network are expected to offset production losses at Tucker.
According to the company’s 2019 annual report, Flowers Foods operates 46 baking plants in the United States, including 6 in the state of Georgia.
While the plant is closed, production employees will receive furlough pay, Flowers said. The employees will be asked to shelter in place until production resumes. A small crew will be maintained at the plant for sanitation and to operate a cross dock. Those workers will be required by the company to pass wellness and temperature screens and wear personal protective equipment at all times. Flowers said the plant also will maintain its stepped-up sanitation protocol.