Germany: Laschet orders Guetersloh lockdown as Toennies COVID-19 cases climb

The district of Guetersloh in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is under lockdown until June 30, NRW Minister President Armin Laschet announced in a press conference in Duesseldorf on Tuesday as over 1,500 people tested positive for COVID-19 in a major coronavirus outbreak at the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck. «From 6,140 Toennies employees that have already been tested, 1,553 employees tested positive for COVID-19,» Laschet announced. The number is expected to increase as «some family members have also been infected,» and are not included in that count. Authorities in NRW are to «expand testing» to establish whether the virus has spread beyond the employees of Toennies to the regular population. Guetersloh has reintroduced the first phase of the lockdown, which had been in place in March, by closing schools and kindergartens for 50,000 kids. Bars, cinemas and gyms will also be closed, and the number of people who can meet in public will be limited. The lockdown in Guetersloh, a district with around 370,000 residents, was the first in Germany since easing of coronavirus restrictions and major openings were announced. Shortly after Armin Laschet spoke to the press, NRW state officials also reintroduced restrictions in the nearby area of Warenorf. The meat plant operated by the Toennies Group has been closed since the outbreak was discovered on June 17, whilst the entire workforce has been quarantined.

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