7000 in quarantine after new coronavirus outbreak at abattoir in NRW

7000 in quarantine after new coronavirus outbreak at abattoir in NRW

Thousands of workers at a slaughterhouse in northwestern Germany have been told to go into quarantine after more than 650 people tested positive for coronavirus. With further test results pending, authorities have moved to shut down the plant, as well as all schools and childcare centres in the district. 

Another coronavirus outbreak in a German abattoir

Authorities announced on Wednesday that 657 workers have tested positive for coronavirus at a Tönnies abattoir in Gütersloh, near Bielefeld in North Rhine-Westphalia. A total of 983 workers have been tested so far, with further results still pending. 

Operations at the site were suspended on Wednesday afternoon, with 7.000 workers told to remain in quarantine until they have been tested for the virus and received a result.

In a bid to limit the size of the outbreak, local authorities have also opted to suspend schools and daycare centres in the region until the start of the school holidays at the end of the month. Many of the Tönnies employees are mothers and fathers with school-age children

“We can only apologise,” said Tönnies spokesperson Andre Vielstädte at a press conference. He said that the company has worked “intensively” to “keep the virus out of operation”. He speculated that the virus must have been brought in relatively recently, since mass tests ordered by the company had just three to four weeks ago had only turned up eight infections.  

Outbreaks shed light on poor working conditions in meat industry

This latest cluster of cases is not the first time that a meat processing plant in Germany has found itself at the centre of a major coronavirus outbreak. Last month, the government moved to crack down on the meat industry with a draft law banning the use of temporary work contracts at abattoirs, following a well-publicised spate of coronavirus infections in Münster and Coesfeld. 

Outbreaks during the coronavirus crisis have shed renewed light on poor working and living conditions in the sector, with employees - many of them subcontractors from Eastern Europe - housed en masse in cramped, unsanitary conditions. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

Read more



Leave a comment