Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The giant meatpacking company at the heart of Germany's new coronavirus hotspot

London (CNN Business)A fresh coronavirus outbreak in Germany has placed the country's massive meat processing industry under intense scrutiny, after more than 1,500 workers were infected at a family-owned slaughterhouse in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Officials said Tuesday that 1,553 workers at the meatpacking plant owned by Germany's Tönnies Group have tested positive for coronavirus — up from 1,331 on Sunday. The plant is situated in Gütersloh, a city in the west of the country, which is now reintroducing lockdown restrictions until the end of June.
The outbreak had already prompted the closure of daycare centers and schools in the district and the Robert Koch Institute, a public health body, linked a spike in Germany's overall coronavirus reproduction rate directly to the plant. Armin Laschet, the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, announced Tuesday that restaurants, bars and gyms in Gütersloh district would close for a week. Outdoor gatherings of more than two people are again prohibited.
The plant owned by Tönnies is one of several meat processing factories now facing scrutiny after coronavirus outbreaks highlighted the poor working and living conditions faced by the industry's many foreign workers. Germany has been relatively successful in fighting the coronavirus, but there have been several outbreaks at slaughterhouses in the past month that threaten to undermine the gradual reopening of its economy.

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