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More than 600,000 affected: Coronavirus outbreak: “Light lockdown” in two NRW districts

More than 600,000 affected : Coronavirus outbreak: “Light lockdown” in two NRW districts

For the first time in Germany, a regional “light lockdown" has been imposed as a result of a new spread of COVID-19. Public life is now restricted again in two districts of NRW. Tens of thousands of people are affected.

ollowing a massive corona outbreak in the meat processing plant Tönnies, two districts of North Rhine-Westphalia have reinstated some restrictions for residents who live there.

At midnight, strict regulations went into effect again in the Gütersloh district and the neighboring district of Warendorf. A total of around 640,000 people are affected. The Tönnies plant Rheda-Wiedenbrück in the district of Gütersloh is considered the origin of the outbreak, and many Tönnies employees also live in the Warendorf area.

In public spaces, only two people or people from a family or household group are now allowed to meet up, as the state government announced on Tuesday. A number of recreational activities are prohibited. For example, museums, cinemas, fitness studios, indoor swimming pools and bars will have to be temporarily closed, according to the information. The new restrictions will initially apply for one week until June 30.

Representatives of both districts spoke of a “light or soft lockdown", because shops and restaurants are allowed to remain open, according to district administrator Sven-Georg Adenauer (CDU). "If you compare that with what we had in March, it's something we can deal with. Not so rough and limited to only one week”.

Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein want to allow citizens from corona risk areas to enter only under strict conditions. In Schleswig-Holstein, they will be quarantined for two weeks after entry. On the island of Usedom, vacationers from the Gütersloh district had already been ordered on Monday to leave Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In a telephone conference this Wednesday, the health ministers of the states will try to reach a consensus on how to deal with travelers.

North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) warned against stigmatizing vacationers from the Gütersloh district. "The message to all who now look to Gütersloh: There are almost no known cases outside of those employed in the meat industry," he told ARD television on Tuesday evening.

Bavaria's head of government, Markus Söder (CSU), on the other hand, defended the restrictions for vacationers from corona risk areas as an absolutely necessary safety measure for all concerned. "We do not want to make it unsafe for many people who vacation in Bavaria", he said on ARD and Bavarian television.

In Bavaria, hostels and guest accommodations will no longer be allowed to accept people coming from a district where the number of new infections in the past seven days has exceeded 50 per 100,000 inhabitants. Exceptions will only be made for those who can show a current negative corona test. In the district of Gütersloh, the so-called 7-day incidence had recently risen to well over 200.

Corona testing will also be significantly expanded in the districts of Güterloh and Warendorf. According to Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU), residents and employees in nursing homes, hospital employees, food retail employees and kiosk staff will be tested. This also applies to the employees of companies and subcontractors who provide shared accommodations or employ many contract workers.

All residents of both districts are to be given the opportunity to have themselves tested free of charge. More than 1,500 Tönnies employees have confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the district of Gütersloh. About 7,000 employees were already quarantined before the tests. All schools and daycare centers in the Gütersloh district were closed as a precautionary measure days ago.

In Bulgaria, three Tönnies employees who have returned home have now been quarantined. They had been tested for the corona virus in Germany, but did not know how the tests turned out, the mayor of Beliza in southwestern Bulgaria, Radoslaw Rewanski, told the television station bTV on Tuesday evening. They will now be tested again.

The corona outbreak at Tönnies and the drastic restrictions for the population are likely to lead to heated debates in the NRW state parliament this Wednesday. Laschet will first inform the state parliament about the measures the state government has taken in the fight against the coronavirus. But it is expected that the opposition will focus on the crisis management of the CDU/FDP coalition.

There was another outbreak of corona reported in a meat processing plant in Lower Saxony. According to the company, employees of the PHW Group ("Wiesenhof") in Wildeshausen have tested positive for the corona virus. Testing on Monday confirmed the coronavirus in 23 of 50 employees, said a spokesperson for the district. According to the PHW group, all of the more than 1,100 employees at the plant will now be tested.

Orig. text: dpa

Translation: ck