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German abattoir continues work after coronavirus outbreak

HAMBURG, July 20 (Reuters) - A German abattoir will continue work on Monday despite a coronavirus outbreak among its personnel, authorities said.

Some 66 of the 1,200 workers at a chicken slaughterhouse in Lohne in North Germany owned by the Wiesenhof meat group tested positive for coronavirus during routine checks, the Vechta local government authority said.

The source of infection was suspected to be employees not maintaining social distancing during breaks rather during work in the slaughtering and production areas, so the plant will be permitted to continue working while investigations continue, it said.

Coronavirus outbreaks at several German slaughterhouses has generated attention on working practices in the meatpacking industry.

The Toennies abattoir in western Germany was permitted to resume slaughtering animals on Thursday after being closed since mid June after about 1,500 workers tested positive for COVID-19,.

The Toennies outbreak in turn caused a lockdown for 600,000 people in the surrounding Guetersloh region, which has now been lifted. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Kim Coghill)