THOMASVILLE, GA. – Flowers Foods, Inc. on July 9 announced its baking plant in Savannah, Ga., has been closed and is expected to reopen on or around July 17.

“An increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases among production staff” together with a growing number of staff members self-quarantining prompted the closing, Flowers said.

Shipping, engineering, sanitation and office team members have continued working, but 115 production employees have been furloughed. Flowers said it was continuing to pay the furloughed employees and has requested those team members shelter-in-place until production resumes.

The plant bakes bread and buns sold across Georgia and South Carolina. Flowers said the closing is expected to have little impact on its ability to keep customers supplied, with the shortfall covered by other plants it operates for the near term. Ahead of reopening, the plant has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, Flowers said.

“Those working at the bakery are continuing to follow all precautionary measures and wear personal protective equipment,” Flowers said. “The bakery also is maintaining its enhanced sanitation schedule.” The workforce at the Savannah plant totals 293.

“Flowers is continuing to implement precautionary measures across its bakeries, including wellness and temperature screening for everyone entering facilities, mandatory face masks, enhanced daily sanitation and cleaning of commonly used areas and frequently touched surfaces, social distancing measures, contact tracing and required self-quarantining for those having close contact with a confirmed case or otherwise exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms,” the company said.

In April, Flowers temporarily closed its plant in Tucker, Ga., because of a COVID-19 outbreak. In April and May, the 7-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia generally held with a range of 450 to 750 before surging in mid-June with the 7-day average reaching 2,500 late in the month and one-day totals eclipsing 3,500.