Germany puts 640,000 people back into lockdown

Germany puts 640,000 people BACK into lockdown after 1,500 coronavirus cases at meat factory owned by billionaire 'Pig Baron' cause R number to spike (Photo: AP)

Daily Mail (June 23, 2020).- Germany has today ordered 640,000 people back into lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak at a meat factory caused a spike in the R rate – dealing a major setback to a country widely praised for its handling of the pandemic. 

More than 1,500 people have tested positive at the Toennies slaughterhouse in the last week and the districts of Guetersloh and Warendorf have now become the first in Germany to enter a second lockdown.  

Bars, gyms and cinemas will all have to shut their doors again while picnics and barbecues will be banned, schools are already closed and the 10-person limit on public gatherings has been slashed to two.  

The spike in cases has punctured optimism that Germany had successfully weathered the pandemic, after it was widely praised for keeping its death toll far lower than that in Britain, Spain, Italy or France.   

Armin Laschet, the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, said the affected areas would return ‘to the measures that applied several weeks ago’ – turning back the clock to before Germany started easing the lockdown.

The meat factory is in Guetersloh but neighbouring Warendorf has also triggered an ’emergency brake’ after the number of cases rose above 50 per 100,000 in a seven-day period, under a threshold agreed by Angela Merkel.   

Laschet also urged people to avoid travelling away during the week-long lockdown – although this will not be enforced – and holiday resorts elsewhere in Germany have already started turning away visitors from the area.    

Health authorities had already quarantined all 6,500 workers at the Toennies plant and carried out tests on the entire workforce, with screening now set to be expanded to the whole area. 

The plant’s billionaire owner Clemens Toennies, nicknamed the ‘Pig Baron’, has apologized for the outbreak amid claims that the crowded accommodation where many Eastern European migrant workers live may have contributed to the spread of the virus.  

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