BERLIN — Authorities in Germany’s populous western state of North-Rhine Westphalia put an entire district around the city of Gütersloh under lockdown today as part of efforts to contain a coronavirus outbreak at an abattoir.
“We will have a lockdown for the entire district of Gütersloh,” said Armin Laschet, prime minister of the region.
The lockdown measures will affect hundreds of thousands of residents and will run until June 30, allowing authorities to bring the contagion under control, he said. The measures will ban contact between households and close bars and gyms, as was the case nationwide in March.
The outbreak is centered around the Tönnies slaughterhouse, with some 1,500 workers having tested positive for the coronavirus.
Germany’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, had already dispatched staff to the region, and on Monday Laschet tweeted that “their recommendations will be followed by further measures.”
Schools and daycare centers had already been closed, and some 7,000 locals have gone into quarantine to contain the spread around Gütersloh.
Laschet, a front runner in the race to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel as federal chancellor, had initially resisted lockdown measures and attracted sharp criticism for appearing to blame workers from Bulgaria and Romania for spreading the disease.
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