Measures to control the spread of Covid-19 were put in place in Gütersloh, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), on Tuesday June 23rd – the first local lockdown since Germany began easing restrictions.
It came after around 2,000 employees at Tönnies meat processing plant become infected with coronavirus. The measures to stall the spread were due to expire on June 30th but are to be extended until July 7th, state premier Armin Laschet said, “as a precaution”.
However, restrictions are to be lifted on June 30th in the neighbouring district of Warendorf, which was also placed under lockdown, That means cinemas, swimming pools, bars and gyms will be allowed to reopen, like other places across Germany.
Similar to the rules that came into force across German states at the height of the epidemic in March, the lockdown resulted in the closures of many businesses and facilities.
Meanwhile, contact restrictions were put in place in a bid to limit contact between people.
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No large community spread
According to Laschet, the outbreak has not spread uncontrollably into the general community in Gütersloh. He said the outbreak had mainly affected Tönnies employees.
Many of them are from Romania and Bulgaria and live in shared housing near the plant.
In the district of Warendorf, there has been no spread. About 40,000 tests have been carried out in both districts and Laschet said he had consulted with experts.
In the Gütersloh district, around 112 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants were reported within the last seven days as of Monday. This is well above the critical mark of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.
The trend, however, is looking good, said Laschet. The rapid containment measures have made it possible to “limit the infection locally and prevent it from spreading to the population”.
The state premier again urged people not to stigmatise people from the Gütersloh district. There had to be a “signal from Germany” that people from Gütersloh were welcome if they could present a negative coronavirus test, he said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel had spoken out last week against the targeting of people from coronavirus hotspots.
As The Local has reported, several states have banned tourists from Gütersloh following the outbreak.
Still no date for reopening of Tönnies
After the outbreak at Tönnies, some 7,000 staff were ordered into self-quarantine. The factory was closed and there is no date yet for its opening.
Gütersloh district administrator Sven-Georg Adenauer said could only happen when there was no danger to the population.
The Tönnies company still had “a lot of homework to do” until then, said Adenauer.
Germany has recorded nearly 194,000 coronavirus cases and 8,961 deaths to date, giving it one of the lowest fatality rates in Europe, reported AFP.