Local authorities have extended a lockdown in and around the German city of Gütersloh after an outbreak at a nearby meat processing plant.
North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet called the extra week of restrictions a “precautionary measure” as they carry out more tests.
But Mr Laschet said the lockdown in neighbouring Warendorf district would end at midnight.
State officials had to bring back virus control measures last week.
An outbreak linked to the Tönnies meat processing factory near Gütersloh infected thousands of people, and on Tuesday local lockdown rules came into force for roughly 600,000 people.
It was the first time such measures had been reintroduced in Germany since the country began lifting the nationwide lockdown in May.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel lifted the national restrictions, she imposed a so-called “emergency brake”, requiring local authorities to reimpose rules if cases rose above a threshold of 50 per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday Mr Laschet said the “rapid containment measures” brought in last Tuesday had stopped the virus “jumping over” into the general population.
Discounting employees of the meat facility – who accounted for the vast majority of infections – Gütersloh district had a rate of 22.5 infections per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, and Warendorf had just 5.4 per 100,000 inhabitants.
But including workers, those rates are significantly higher: Gütersloh district’s rate rises to 112.6, far more than the 50 per 100,000 threshold. Warendorf’s figure increases to 22, enabling the district to exit restrictions at midnight.
Once more tests are conducted and their results confirmed, the authorities will decide on when to end restrictions in Gütersloh, Mr Laschet said.
The Tönnies plant remains shut until further notice. North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann has ruled that all meat processing sites in the state with more than 100 workers must test each employee twice a week from 1 July.
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