NAfter the corona outbreak at the meat processor Tönnies, the authorities are also imposing a lockdown for the neighboring district of Warendorf. There are contact restrictions, indoor sports and numerous cultural events are banned, said NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) on Tuesday. From Thursday schools and daycare centers in the district will also be closed. The state of Schleswig-Holstein also imposed a quarantine obligation for travelers from the North Rhine-Westphalian corona hotspots. They must go to their home or other suitable accommodation after entering the country to isolate themselves for 14 days, the state government said.
Because of the Corona outbreak in a slaughterhouse of the Tönnies Group, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia had previously announced a lockdown for the Gütersloh district. For the first time since the Corona easing, a whole circle in Germany is being traced back “to the measures that applied a few weeks ago,” said Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) on Tuesday in Düsseldorf. The measures initially apply until the end of June, but can also be extended. The purpose should be to “calm the situation” and “expand the testing”. By the end of the month there will be more clarity about the extent to which people who do not work at Tönnies have also been infected with the virus, said Laschet.
Under the conditions of the lockdown, only a maximum of two people or members of the same household may meet again. From this Wednesday, indoor sports and many cultural events are to be banned again in the district. Fitness studios will be closed, as will cinemas and bars. Restaurants are only allowed to open under stricter conditions.
Free corona tests for everyone
The outbreak in the meat factory in Rheda-Wiedenbrück is the largest single infection to date in Germany, said Laschet. A “special location” results from the spread of locations and the internationality of the workforce. 1553 employees of the slaughterhouse have now tested positive for the virus. There could be other cases in their family environment. Therefore, the number of infected people is probably higher. At the same time, there are only 24 confirmed corona infections in the district in people who do not work at Tönnies, said Laschet. Nevertheless, the state government decided to lockdown in order to minimize the risk of infection. “What we do here has never been done in Germany,” Laschet emphasized.
All citizens could now be tested free of charge to get certainty about their personal situation, said Laschet. “We will carry out a representative test of the population in order to get a real picture of the situation.”
Vacation is allowed
The Prime Minister made it clear that the measures only apply to the Gütersloh district. However, there is no exit ban. “We have not issued any travel bans,” said Laschet. But he appealed to the residents “not to go out of the district to other circles now”. The summer holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia will begin on June 29th, and many have already booked their holidays.
According to Laschet, the center of the corona outbreak at Tönnies could be located in the meat division. Most of the infected are in this department. Special conditions such as cooling may have contributed to the spread of the virus. Laschet accused the company of a lack of willingness to cooperate. Therefore, the authorities finally had the data of the Tönnies factory workers released. “There was no longer any cooperation, there was an order,” said Laschet.
The Robert Koch Institute cannot currently explain why there are so many people infected with corona in the meat industry. Its President Lothar Wieler said on Tuesday in Berlin that it was easier for the virus in the workers’ narrow apartments. The low temperatures in the slaughterhouse to keep the meat cool could play a role in the transmission of the virus as well as aerosols that are transmitted through the air we breathe.
From the workforce of the slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrück and their surroundings, 7,000 people have already been quarantined without a positive result. Adhering to the quarantine measures is difficult. Laschet announced that this quarantine would also be enforced with police support. The state has ordered three deployment hundred units to the Gütersloh district. According to Laschet, the police will accompany the mobile teams of the health department “even in difficult situations” and use coercion if necessary. There are now a hundred mobile teams that are accompanied by interpreters for Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian.
Almost a week ago, schools and daycare centers for 50,000 children were closed in the Gütersloh district, which has 370,000 inhabitants. The district of Gütersloh had quarantined all employees and the management of the Tönnies large slaughterhouse by ordinance at the weekend. It lasts until July 2nd. Meat production was temporarily stopped.