Mal­low race­course turned into test cen­tre

The Corkman - - FRONT PAGE - BILL BROWNE

CLOSED on Tuesday as part of a raft of govern­ment mea­sures, by Wed­nes­day Cork Race­course Mal­low was be­ing turned into a test­ing cen­tre for COVID-19.

Horse Rac­ing Ire­land (HRI) chair­man Nicky Hartery con­firmed on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon that prepa­ra­tions had got­ten un­der­way ahead of the planned open­ing of a test cen­tre at the Cork Race­course to­day

It is un­der­stood the cen­tre is be­ing opened in re­sponse to the un­prece­dented level of demand for tests in Cork.

“All staff in­volved are work­ing tire­lessly ev­ery day to man­age this demand and to pre­pare for in­creased demand in the fu­ture. We are work­ing hard to reach a point where we will be car­ry­ing out up to 2,000 tests a day across Cork and Kerry,” said a HSE spokesper­son.

GER­MAN au­to­mo­tive com­po­nent man­u­fac­turer Kostal has tem­po­rar­ily closed its Mal­low and Abbeyfeale plants, which be­tween them em­ploy more than 1,000 peo­ple, as a re­sult of the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Kostal Ire­land cur­rently has 1,038 em­ploy­ees, 345 at its Mal­low plant and 693 at its Lim­er­ick plant. The firm has es­tab­lished it­self as one of the largest em­ploy­ers in Mun­ster - and the dom­i­nant em­ployer in both the Mal­low and Abbeyfeale ar­eas.

In a brief state­ment the com­pany, a lead­ing sup­plier of elec­tronic com­po­nents to the Euro­pean mo­tor in­dus­try, said its the fa­cil­i­ties had ceased op­er­a­tions from 8am on Wed­nes­day and will re­main closed un­til April 27 at the ear­li­est.

The com­pany said the de­ci­sion to close was taken as a re­sult of the im­pact the Coro­n­avirus on their Ir­ish op­er­a­tions and would be re­viewed at the end of April “with re­sump­tion there­after depend­ing on de­vel­op­ments with COVID-19”.

Amongst the prod­ucts made by Kostal are com­po­nents for the next-gen­er­a­tion of plug-in hy­brid and all-elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

It is un­der­stood the de­ci­sion to close its two Ir­ish plants fol­lowed the wide­spread shut­down of ma­jor car pro­duc­tion plants in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

“This is a most re­gret­table but nec­es­sary course of ac­tion un­der the cir­cum­stances brought about by the COVID-19 pan­demic which has pre­sented us with se­ri­ous chal­lenges in meet­ing pub­lic safety di­rec­tives around so­cial dis­tanc­ing, given the num­bers of em­ploy­ees on site. The safety and welfare of our work­force is para­mount,” read the state­ment.

“Our op­er­a­tions have also been im­pacted by COVID-19 in terms of sup­ply chain and a de­crease in demand for prod­ucts across Europe. This clo­sure is for an ini­tial pe­riod up to April 27 and will be re­viewed with re­sump­tion there­after depend­ing on de­vel­op­ments with COVID-19,” it con­cluded.

It is hoped that, mar­ket con­di­tions per­mit­ting, both plants will be able to re­sume op­er­a­tions from that date.

While a com­pany spokesper­son was un­avail­able for com­ment on the mat­ter, a source said it was “a very chal­leng­ing time” for the firm, its em­ploy­ees and their families.

The com­pany source said that both the firm and its em­ploy­ees are “se­verely im­pacted be­cause of this (virus) event.”

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