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Production continues as Chilean salmon city is quarantined

Workers in Puerto Montt must present a permit to prove they are exempted from some lockdown rules. Photo: Salmonexpert Archive.
Workers in Puerto Montt must present a permit to prove they are exempted from some lockdown rules. Photo: Salmonexpert Archive.

Companies in the Chilean salmon capital of Puerto Montt must apply for a collective permit for their staff if they want to continue operating when the commune goes into a two-week Covid-19 quarantine tomorrow.

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The permit allows the continued mobility of salmon industry workers during the quarantine, which begins at 10pm local time on Wednesday, July 29. It has been imposed due to the significant increase in the daily number of Covid-19 infections, which on Monday amounted to 58 new cases.

People from other communes who need to enter Puerto Montt “will only be able to do it once a week, obviously justifying their coming and for nothing other than essential procedures”, said Leticia Oyarce, governor of the Llanquihue Province.

Control points

Scarlett Molt of Los Lagos Health Department explained that “moving to a quarantine area can only be done if it is part of the critical or essential services and if you have the authorisation to do so”. In addition, she indicated that different control points will be installed in the commune.

Chile’s Ministry of Finance has ruled that fishing, salmon aquaculture and processing of fish and shellfish are exempted from full Covid restrictions.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, aquaculture has been declared as a strategic sector for the country,” said Arturo Clément, president of producers’ organisation Salmonchile. “Therefore, we will continue working with maximum security measures and protocols that we have established in conjunction with the health authority, just as we have been doing at each stage of this emergency.”

Essential work

Los Lagos region economy minister, Francisco Muñoz, said that salmon sector workers, including those in process plants that are in the commune, will be able to continue going to their workplaces, since “the aquaculture activity continues, because both food production and respective supplies are considered essential”.

He explained that employers whose staff work in such areas must request a collective permit in the company’s name and must list the workers whose jobs are classed as essential.

Muñoz also pointed out that “the other permit that must be obtained is the health passport, in the event that one travels through the areas where sanitary control is to be carried out”.

Farming support

The Association of Southern Shipowners (Armasur) told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, that people involved in transport of cargo and food, movement in port terminals for connectivity activities and support for salmon farming would be included as essential personnel under the exemptions.

Maintenance services provided by shipyards and workshops are also considered as fundamental activities to maintain the logistics chain. 

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