Bulla returns to full production in Colac following COVID-19 outbreak

Bulla returns to full production in Colac following COVID-19 outbreak

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"Regional Victoria will be opening up in the next 24 hours," Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed.

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Update, 1.50pm: Bulla Dairy Foods has recommenced full production at its Connor Street site in Colac after an outbreak at the workplace lead to 20 coronavirus infections.

Employees returned to work after receiving final clearance from the Department of Health and Human Services and following a deep clean of the entire site finalised last Friday September 11.

The site reopened Saturday September 12 and full production commenced yesterday 6am.

The 244 employees had to quarantine for 14 days after the DHHS identified them as 'close contacts' of an employee who tested positive to COVID-19 late August.

They all returned negative tests, said chief executive Allan Hood.

There are still seven infected Bulla employees who are self-isolating.

"It has been a positive start to the week for the Bulla family following final clearance from the DHHS to reopen our Connor Street, Colac site," he said.

"The health and safety of our team, and the wider community in which we operate, is of utmost importance to us and we have worked closely with the DHHS and relevant authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure the workplace is COVID-19 safe for the return of our team.

"Moving forward, we continue to focus on creating a safe environment across all Bulla sites by adhering to all government and health authority's advice as well as ensuring we are all following strict hygiene and safety protocols we have put in place, including those additional measures implemented in the last two weeks.

"As we head into the warmer months and the Christmas period, we are pleased to be able to support our local community even further and are now recruiting team members to join the safe and supportive home of Australia's favourite ice cream to help us ensure that Bulla's real dairy frozen treats are widely available on shelves and freezers around the country.

"Lastly, our seven team members who have received positive COVID-19 test results are still recovering at home in isolation and we are pleased to share that they have indicated to us that they are feeling much better. We will continue to support them on their journey to recovery."

Mr Hood had criticised the health department last week after it linked 16 cases to Bulla Dairy Foods in Colac.

READ MORE: Bulla Dairy Foods chief 'left in the dark' about cases in Colac

A DHHS spokesperson told The Standard today there are currently 20 cases linked to the facility including 13 active cases.

"The department is working closely with Bulla Dairy Foods, Barwon Health and Colac Health to contain a coronavirus outbreak at the Bulla Dairy Foods Colac facility," he said.

"The facility has been deep cleaned and all staff have been tested and close contacts will be required to isolate for 14 days.

"The facility recently reopened with reduced staff and Bulla has been working very closely with the department to manage this process to ensure the safety of all staff."

He said DHHS was closely monitoring the outbreak and is in regular contact with the Bulla Dairy Foods operations manager through regular Incident Management Team meetings.

He said that by grouping cases together into a single outbreak, the public health team can ensure it is identifying and investigating any possible links in transmission within a connected community and mitigate these.

There are cases in Colac unrelated to the Bulla Dairy outbreak and these are not included in the Bulla total.

All organisation based outbreaks totals include contacts as well as employees/residents/staff/students of that location/business.

Mr Hood said some stock had been lost due to the closure of the icream production at Connor Street.

"When our Connor Street site was temporarily closed from 30 August, we were able to move the stock we had to our other sites across Victoria to ensure there was no wastage.

"Due to the required 14-day closure at our Connor St site there has been some impact on the production and supply of our frozen ranges."

Regional Victoria to open up as zero coronavirus deaths recorded

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Earlier, 12pm: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed regional Victoria would move to Step 3 of the roadmap to 'COVID Normal' from 11.59pm on Wednesday, September 16.

The news comes as regional Victoria's 14-day rolling average of case numbers dropped to 3.6 with no new cases in recorded in the past 24 hours bringing the total to 43 active cases and no new mystery cases.

"I am absolutely delighted to announce that regional Victoria from 11.59pm tomorrow night will be able to take the third step in our safe and steady roadmap to 'COVID Normal'," Mr Andrews said.

"It's a massive thing, it's such good news.

"Regional Victoria will be opening up in the next 24 hours.

"This is a day of hope and optimism. Well done regional Victoria, this is an amazing effort."

Statewide, Mr Andrews confirmed there was zero deaths linked to coronavirus overnight, the first time since July 13 the death toll hasn't risen in a 24 hour period.

There has been 729 deaths recorded in Victoria since the beginning of the pandemic.

There were 42 new cases of coronavirus recorded in the past 24 hours with the state's total number of active cases to 1,040.

Metropolitan Melbourne's 14-day rolling average of cases dropped to 52.9 with 82 cases with an unknown source detected; a decrease of nine overnight.

There 118 Victorians in hospital, 11 in intensive care and seven on a ventilator.

What does Step 3 mean for me? 

Step 3 of the regional Victoria's pathway to 'COVID Normal' allows for more social interactions and businesses to open more freely.

From 11.59pm on Wednesday, September 16 there will be no restrictions on leaving your home, but masks are still mandatory. Regional Victorians will not be able to travel to Metropolitan Melbourne as the capital has high restrictions enforced. Travel across regional Victoria is now allowed with accommodation services open with social bubble caps.

Public gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed and the Department of Health and Human Services recommends spending time with others outside where possible.

Household bubbles now apply in regional Victoria. A house can nominated one other household for visitation. The residents of these households can visit each other so long as there's a maximum of five people at a time not including infants under 12 months. Shared households can only nominate one other household together.

Students will return to their school grounds for Term 4 but safety measures will remain in place.

Hospitality businesses will have individual density limits, can only serve groups of 10 and will be operating predominantly with outdoor seated services. Only table service will be allowed with a two hour limit on bookings. Indoor service venues can open with a cap of 10 seated patrons per space subject to a one person per four-square-metres density rule. Only two spaces indoors will be able to operate.

For outdoor service venues have a cap of 50 seated patrons subject to density requirements of one person per two-square-metres rule.

All retail can operate except for personal care services where face coverings cannot be worn. Real estate will continue to operate with private inspections only and auctions can take place in outdoor areas with gathering limits in place.

Weddings limits have increased with up to 10 people including the couple, two witnesses and the celebrant allowed. Meanwhile funeral services can have up to 20 people with infants under 12 months and people conducting the service excluded from this number.

Outdoor religious gatherings can have up to 10 people as well as the faith leader in attendance. Places of worship are only open for private worships.

The DHHS COVIDSafe principles still apply; wear a mask or face covering when outside your house, do not go to work if you are sick or unwell and keep a physical distance of 1.5 metres.

Other principles include coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow, having good hand hygiene and remaining to outdoor activities.

Subject to public health advice, if there are zero new cases statewide for 14 days, Victoria can move to the final step on November 23.

READ MORE: Victorian COVID-19 roadmap: what are the COVID steps and how do we advance?

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The story Bulla returns to full production in Colac following COVID-19 outbreak first appeared on The Standard.

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