Tönnies plant forced to close in Germany after huge COVID-19 outbreak

A Tönnies abattoir in northwestern Germany has been forced to close after 657 people tested positive for COVID-19.

The local authorities shut down the Rheda-Wiedenbrück meat processing plant, in the district of Gütersloz following the test result from more than 1,000 workers, according to German media outlet DW, 

In addition, all schools and daycare centres in the region have been suspended until the summer holidays on June 29 and around 7,000 people in the area have been put in quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus.

With the plant set to be out of action for a number of weeks, there are concerns the plant closure will have implications for UK cull sow exports.

Several German abattoirs have reported massive COVID-19 outbreaks in recent weeks, resulting in a number of closures. The situation has put the spotlight on working conditions in meat plants and the working conditions of immigrant workers and has prompted a change in the law banning subcontractors, largely immigrants, from working in German meat plants from January 2021.

A spokesman for Tönnies, Germany’s leading meat processing, apologised at a press conference. Spokesman Andre Vielstädte said the business had worked ‘intensively’ to ‘keep the virus out of the company’, WD reported.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.