BERLIN — The German state of North-Rhine Westphalia has imposed a new lockdown in the area around a meat processing factory hit by a coronavirus outbreak.
The state’s Prime Minister Armin Laschet announced that the entire district of Guetersloh — home to more than 360,000 people — would be locked down for the next seven days.
Group meetings have been banned, and schools, daycare centers, museums, restaurants, pubs, swimming pools, gyms and other public places forced to close.
Laschet said the new measures were necessary because 1,553 workers at the Toennies meat processing factory have tested positive for the virus in recent days.
The plant has been shut since last week. All of its 7,000 local employees and their families have been ordered into lockdown, even if they have not tested positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, those restrictions were broadened to cover the entire district.
North-Rhine Westphalia is Germany’s most populous state, with almost 18 million inhabitants.
In the seven days to Monday, the entire state reported 1,860 new cases of the novel coronavirus. That statistic suggests that while the outbreak has been severe, it has so far been largely confined to the factory and its workers.
Laschet said Tuesday that only 24 coronavirus cases have been identified outside the factory so far.