Berlin, June 23 (IANS) German authorities were re-introducing local lockdown measures after a fresh coronavirus outbreak was reported at a slaughterhouse in North Rhine-Westphalia state, the media reported on Tuesday.
More than 1,300 employees of the Tonnies meatpacking plant have now tested positive for the virus, reports the BBC.
On Tuesday, North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet said restrictions will return in the Gütersloh district, where the plant is located and is home to about 360,000 people.
It is the first return of containment measures since Germany began lifting its COVID-19 lockdown in May.
Laschet said the lockdown would last until June 30, and described the move as a “preventative measure”.
The premier described the outbreak linked to the nearby Tönnies meatpacking plant as the “biggest infection incident” in the country.
“We have decided that further measures are necessary,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
Bars, museums, cinemas and gyms have been ordered to close, along with social distancing measures back in force.
There will also be a mandatory quarantine for all employees of the affected plant. Extra police will be deployed to enforce the measures, accompanied by translators to speak to migrant workers.
Germany was widely praised for its response to the pandemic but there are concerns infections are rising again.
Lothar Wieler, head of the nation’s public health body the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), told reporters on Tuesday the country was at risk of a second wave of infections but said he was optimistic they could prevent it.
Currently the reproduction rate, the R number which indicates how many people one infected person can pass the virus to, in Germany is estimated at 2.76.
The R number must be below one for infection rates to fall.
As of Tuesday, Germany reported a total of 191,768 COVID-19 cases, with 8,909 deaths.