Authorities in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia are reintroducing local lockdown restrictions following another COVID-19 outbreak that has been linked to a meatpacking plant in the state
The state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, has said that the “preventative measures” within the Gütersloh district, which is home to around 360,000 people, these new lockdown restrictions would only last until the 30th of June.
This is the first such move since Germany began to lift its lockdown restrictions nationwide throughout May.
The country has been internationally praised due to its response to the global crisis, but there are fears that infections of the coronavirus are rising again.
This comes after Angela Merkel announced that shops were to begin to re-open in the country since Germany’s lockdown was first lifted in mid-April.
Armin Laschet described the new wave of the COVID-19 outbreak linked to the Tönnies meatpacking plant, which is south-west of the city of Gütersloh, as being “biggest infection incident” in the nation.
“We have decided that further measures are necessary,” he said to journalists.
“People are not barred from leaving the area, but Mr Laschet appealed for local residents “not to travel to other districts”.
Ansgar Puff, a bishop in the nearby German city of Cologne, condemned what he called:
“Exploitation and slavery-like practices’ at meat-packing plants in Germany.”
“Migrants from Eastern Europe are misused as cheap labour in the middle of Germany and housed in inhumane dwellings. The exploitative employment in the meat industry is a scandal,” he said.
“Before the corona cases in the slaughterhouses, the topic was of little interest to the general public. It was just too easy for many to close their eyes.”
Local authorities in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have the power to enforce different restrictions in their state. Regulations differ from region to region throughout Germany.
This is not the only localised coronavirus outbreak in Germany. A tower block in the country has been placed under quarantine in the city of Göttingen in central Germany, police in the city were sent to maintain order on Saturday following residents tried to leave Göttingen.
German officials have said that those residents inside the building attacked police officers with fireworks, glass bottles and metal bars. Most of those living within the tower block, however, have been complying with the quarantine.
Lothar Wieler, the head of the country’s public health body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said to journalists on Tuesday Germany was at risk of a second wave of the coronavirus, but he went on to say that he was optimistic a further spread on the virus in the nation could be prevented.
Currently, the reproduction rate, also known as the the ‘R number’, which indicates how many people in a country that one infected person can pass the coronavirus on to, in Germany is estimated at 2.76.
But authorities have stressed the outbreaks remain localised as the R number must be below one for infection rates to fall.