Schools in German district to close after 400 meat factory workers test positive for coronavirus

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Schools in German district to close after 400 meat factory workers test positive for coronavirus
Archive photo shows a teacher at a school in Gütersloh. Photo: DPA

All schools and daycare centres (Kitas) in a district in western Germany are to shut after 400 employees at a meat processing plant became infected with Covid-19.


Following the outbreak at the Tönnies slaughterhouse, the Gütersloh district has decided to close all schools and daycare centers until the summer holidays, reported Spiegel on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the district said the closure is intended to protect the population in the district area from infection. Among the Tönnies employees are numerous mothers and fathers with school-age children.

The plant joins a string of German slaughterhouses that have suffered similar outbreaks recently.

The closure of schools and Kitas in Gütersloh, near Bielefeld, will apply from Thursday until the start of the summer holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia, which begin on June 29th.


With 400 new Covid-19 infections reported since the beginning of the week alone, the coronavirus outbreak at Tönnies in Rheda-Wiedenbrück is becoming increasingly widespread. And the results of hundreds of tests are still pending.

In a series of large-scale coronavirus tests in meat processing plants by the health authorities after an outbreak in a meat factory in the Coesfeld district in May, only a few cases were initially detected at Tönnies.


Although all contact persons had been sent into self-quarantine as a precautionary measure, further infections spread in the meat processing plant.

Reform of meat industry

Germany has vowed to crack down on working and accommodation conditions at meat processing plants after a number of outbreaks during the coronavirus crisis.

A draft law agreed last month by the government will force slaughterhouses to quit the practise of hiring eastern Europeans on short term contracts and will impose heavy fines on companies that fail to comply.

Trade unions say that the eastern Europeans are the victims of appalling living conditions at the mass accommodation provided for them by sub-contractors hired by the meat packing industry. Furthermore they lament a practise of meat companies contracting out work to subcontractors so that they cannot be held liable when abuses are exposed.

READ ALSO: Germany to reform meat industry after corona outbreak exposes abuses

Local outbreaks affecting Germany

Schools and Kitas in parts of Germany have been forced to close when new infections rise. In Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, a primary school had to close after new infections were detected this week.

In Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt, several schools, youth facilities and playgrounds were also closed in recent days after an accumulation of new infections. In the city, 180 infections have been recorded so far, 60 of them since Friday.

Meanwhile, in Berlin an outbreak has led to more than 350 households in apartment buildings being quarantined, with dozens of confirmed coronavirus infections.


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