June 21, 2020 / 2:32 PM / 22 days ago

Germany struggles to impose local coronavirus restrictions

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Authorities in Germany’s Goettingen and North Rhine Westphalia regions have called on police to enforce quarantine measures following a rise in local coronavirus infections and trouble getting people to adhere to isolation rules.

Employees are seen outside the main Toennies meat factory that had to be shut down because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak among its employees, in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, Germany June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

Health authorities needed police reinforcement to maintain lockdown conditions at a tower block in Goettingen after a riot broke out on Saturday where around 700 people had been placed into quarantine.

“Around 200 people tried to get out, but 500 people complied with quarantine rules,” Uwe Luehrig, head of police in Goettingen, said at a press conference on Sunday.

In the ensuing fracas, eight police officers were injured after residents started to attack law enforcement officials with bottles, fireworks and metal bars, Luehrig said.

Officials in North Rhine Westphalia forced 7,000 employees and their families to go into quarantine earlier this week after more than 1,300 staff at German meat processing firm Toennies tested positive for coronavirus.

Armin Laschet, the premier of the state of North Rhine Westphalia called in consular officials from Poland, Bulgaria and Romania to mobilise translators to persuade workers at a local meat processing plant to observe a new lockdown.

“There are 1,300 properties where staff and their families live, and where we need to observe the quarantine rules,” Laschet said at a press conference on Sunday, explaining that local police and public order officials were helping out.

Germany has been widely regarded as a success story in Europe in terms of containing the coronavirus. But infections have been rising again.

The country’s reproduction rate of virus infections jumped to 2.88, based on a 4-day average, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health said on Sunday, far above the level needed to contain it over the longer term.

In total, the country has reported 189,822 laboratory-confirmed infections and 8,882 deaths due to COVID-19, RKI said.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Frances Kerry and Daniel Wallis

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