(Reuters) – Smithfield Foods Inc will restart its plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota from May 7 after being idled for more than three weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, the world’s biggest pork processor said late on Wednesday.

The company said it would take a phased approach to resuming its operations and that the plant was expected to be fully operational by late May.

The union representing plant employees at the South Dakota facility said earlier this week that Smithfield had resumed limited operations at the plant.

Last week, President Donald Trump ordered meat-processing plants to stay open to protect the food supply in the United States, despite concerns about coronavirus outbreaks, drawing a backlash from unions that said at-risk workers required more protection.

Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, said on Wednesday that it would resume production this week at its Iowa plant after an indefinite suspension of operations since April 22.

Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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